Oz Through Sara’s Eyes: Fiji

Before landing in Australia, I chose to take an additional Pacific studies course at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji. While there, I stayed with a homestay family with three other AIFS students. We really lucked out and had such a kind and welcoming family. Our “dad” took us to his home village of Daku, where he carried out a lot of work involving environmental changes and how it affects the village. Our trip also took us to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes and then to Mana Island, one of the little, picturesque islands that surround mainland Fiji.

Whitmanythought 1: I would love to spend more time relaxing on the outer islands of Fiji.

 

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Oz Through Sara’s Eyes: Northwest Outback Trip H20

There are so many beautiful things to see on land, but even more to discover on and under the water! Being the water-lover that I am, I did not have the heart to cut out enough aquatic footage to fit into my previous two outback videos, so I made one just dedicated to H20.

In this video, you will see all sorts of beautiful water creatures such as fish, sea turtles, reef sharks and one of my favorites, dolphins! I will take you gliding through the waves on a catamaran and diving under them into the coral reefs off the Northwestern coast of Australia.

Whitmanythought 1: All I can do is smile when I watch this

Whitmanythought 2: I love dolphins!

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

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!

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

 

2017: From Traveling to Relaxing

How I am sitting down to write my 2017 wrap-up post is beyond me, yet here I am. Quite opposite to 2016, this year was not driven by my need to travel. Yes, I travelled; a lot. However, once my beautiful semester in Australia was done, I was not ready to hit the road (or sky) again. In fact, I did not want to travel at all. I wanted to rest and relax, and that is exactly what I did.

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My version of relaxation is still not what many would call “relaxing,” but it was perfect. I ended up working as a sailing instructor, which was my first job a few years back, I spent quality time with friends and family and I went to the beach every chance I could. The furthest I traveled was to my AIFS Alumni Ambassador training in Connecticut, and the only “trips” I took were to Philadelphia a handful of times and to a lake house in my home state of New Jersey. I took a break from social media and I simply lived.

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Summertime relaxation

Then, I quickly jumped into a hurricane of a semester; one that really tested me emotionally. During that semester, I really appreciated when I could “get away” and leave campus to take my mind off things. It was a mixture of my post-Australia summer and chaotic semester that led me to realize the purpose of 2017: to teach me to take a break.

When people ask me about my new year resolution, I tell them I do not have one. In fact, I never really do. What I try to focus on are the things that make me happy and the things that do not, and live accordingly. In 2016, I was all about acting on my “mid-college crisis” and my travel bug any way I could. Between studying in Rome, travelling to London and spending a semester down under, I think I did an excellent job (thanks to the support of my wonderful family). In 2017, I focused on taking a break, which really started in Australia. Although I was busy almost every weekend while there and went on three weeklong trips, I still had a huge amount of free time to which I was not accustomed. I learned to appreciate that extra space and use it as “me” time to let loose and distress. In Australia, a lot of that extra time was spent blogging and making videos. In the summer, it was spent laying at the beach or swimming in a pool. During the semester, any extra time I found was spent doing anything from a face mask and watching a show to napping. I mentioned at the beginning of the semester that I learned that it is okay to not have everything organized to a tee, and this semester has really allowed me to calm myself and leave a few days open for when last minute things pop up. And when they did not, the extra time was simply an unexpected treat.

2016 was focused on my thirst to travel. 2017 was focused on my need to learn to relax. Although so different, both years offered me wonderful things, from new experiences and knowledge to new people. I have no idea what 2018 will bring, and at the present moment, I do not have much control over it. Regardless, I have no doubt that 2018 will be just as fulfilling as the last two. Here’s to the memories of 2017 and the unknown of 2018!

21 Gifts for Someone Studying Abroad

If someone you know is studying abroad and you want to get him or her the perfect present, look no further. Here are some useful and budget-friendly items that your departing friend will love.

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  1. Passport holder – I love mine!
  2. Travel size toiletries – this is useful for long flights or weekend getaways
  3. Travel size refillable bottles – for extra conditioner, shampoo, etc.
  4. City guide book – for those who have not completely switched over to the internet
  5. Space bags – these will come in handy when they are trying to stuff everything in his or her suitcase!
  6. Portable phone charger – an absolute must for long days spent exploring
  7. Power adapter/converter – there are cheap packs that come with several types for a worldly traveler
  8. Journal – so your friend can write about his or her experiences
  9. Neck pillow – to assure comfort on long flights
  10. Luggage tag – so your friend knows which bag to grab!
  11. Toiletry bag – help your friend stay organized in the bathroom while abroad
  12. Phone camera lens – there are lenses you can attach to your cell phone to increase the quality of photos. Some are expensive, though!
  13. Earbuds – something that will come in use on long flights or road trips
  14. Microfiber travel towel – these are quick-drying, lightweight and do not take up much room at all
  15. Stain removing stick – something small that will come in handy when your friend least expects it
  16. Travel money – there are many pre-paid cards that work overseas
  17. Translation tool – whether it be a digital lesson or book, having a guide to the country’s language is always useful
  18. Money necklace – there are different types of wallets that can fit under clothes that are useful for traveling abroad and keeping money and passports safe and out of sight
  19. Card protector wallet – these wallets keep credit and debit cards protected from scanners that crooks use to see through normal wallets and steal information
  20. “Open when…” cards – these will not take up much room and are the perfect idea for when your friend is feeling unsure, missing home or just might need some motivation
  21. Something sentimental – there are so many gifts to remind your friend of home, from a keychain with his or her state or a necklace with sand from his or her favorite beach