Well, although I thought June 28th would never happen, it did and it was time for me to come home. After about 24 hours of traveling, I arrived in Cleveland yesterday at 6 pm. My parents came to pick me up along with my best friend Carrie who surprised me at the airport! I slept for about 2 hours while traveling, so needless to say I was exhausted. I ended up staying up until about midnight and slept for 12 hours, then after about 2 hours of being awake had to take a nap. I have never felt jet lag like this, probably because I have never had to go through a 14 hour time change!
It is a very strange feeling being home. Although I have lived here my whole life, I feel sort of out of place. It’s strange to feel so at home somewhere and then have to leave.
However, I am so thankful for the past 4 months. I have met some of the most amazing people that I will never forget and I have formed some of the best memories that I will ever have. Most people cannot say that they moved by themselves and lived on the other side of the world for 4 months, and I am so proud and thankful that I was able to. I have learned so much about myself and gained so much independence. This experience has dramatically changed me and the way that I view the world.
It really is hard to put into words how meaningful this trip has been for me. I have met friends that I know will last a lifetime. I have gained confidence and independence, and I have been able to experience new cultures, people, and a new piece of the world. It was a very hard goodbye and I know I will miss Australia so much, and a piece of me will always be there. I’ll see ya soon Straya!!
Also, for any students considering studying abroad, and those who aren’t, the best advice I can give you is DO IT! Being able to travel the world with few responsibilities is usually only an opportunity during college. There is something about going to another country by yourself or with very few people that is.. well, terrifying. It’s like starting college all over again but in a different part of the world. However, during surf camp one of the instructors gave me some advice that has stuck with me, “life starts at the end of your comfort zone.” Usually the scariest things end up being the most amazing. You have no idea what is waiting for you around the world until you give it a chance. If you decide to study abroad, as many other students will agree with, you will not regret it.
About a week and a half ago was my last trip here in Australia. We started the trip off right by seeing Keith Urban! He grew up in Queensland so it was so cool to see him play in his home country, and it was such a great show! He played in Brisbane so we stayed in a hostel there for the night and then took a train to Brisbane airport early the next morning and were on our way to Canberra!
Jess is from Canberra (pronounced can-bruh) and had flown home earlier in the week so she picked us up from the airport. We stayed at her house for the two days that we were in Canberra. It was so nice to meet her family and friends and see where she is from! Canberra is the capital of Australia so there is plenty of sightseeing to do, but is definitely not a big exciting city like most of the other places I have gone to. During our couple days visiting, we went to the Australian War Memorial and the National Museum of Australia. We also got to walk through the Old Parliament House! This was one of the most interesting and one of my favorite things that we did in Canberra. We got to walk through all of the offices and see the Senate and House of Representatives, so cool! There were many facts throughout and one of them said that this Parliament House was meant to have 200 people working in it, but later had 3,000 people stuffed into it! I’m guessing this might be the reason why they built a new Parliament House. On our last day before we headed to the airport, we went to the Canberra Arboretum.
Saturday we were off to Melbourne! Melbourne (pronounced melbin) is one of the most popular cities in Australia and many say it is “the new Sydney”. Melbourne and Sydney both wanted to be the capital of Australia, but neither of them got it and it turned out to be Canberra. So Jess, Brittany, and I arrived to Melbourne on Saturday night. We were all exhausted so we just got some food and walked around the city. Early the next morning, after a few complications, we got our rental car and were off to Bell’s Beach! We checked into our hostel there and were off to the Great Ocean Road! Our main goal was to see the 12 Apostles. Going directly there was about an hour and a half drive, but we also wanted to see the Great Ocean Road. Little did we know that getting to the 12 Apostles while driving along the Great Ocean Road would take 4 hours! It was a long day and many hours in the car but so worth it when we got to the 12 Apostles! I have seen so many pictures and it was awesome to be able to see in person.
The next morning we were on our way back to Melbourne! When we got back, our first stop was the Eureka Skydeck. We took an elevator up to the 88th floor and the views were amazing! It was so cool to be able to see so much of the city. Since our tickets were good for the whole day, we went back at night too so we could see the city all lit up. We also went to the Melbourne Museum which was probably my favorite museum that I have seen in Australia. The next day we went to the Queen Victoria Markets. There were vendors selling food/clothes/souvenirs/basically anything. It was so much fun and I was finally able to get some souvenir shopping done for people back home. It was a goal on our lists to find some good graffiti around the city. Everyone that I know that has visited Melbourne posts pictures of it so I wanted to see it for myself. It was so cool and so many alleyways were completely covered! I still have no idea how people were able to graffiti at the top of a 3 story building!
Our last day in Melbourne was one of my favorite. We started off the morning with the Old Melbourne Gaol (how they spell jail). This is where the infamous Ned Kelly was imprisoned. We started off by taking a “tour” (I don’t know what else to call it) where a police officer acted like we were under arrest so she would yell at us and put us in cells and tell us different facts about the jail. This was my favorite part even though the sheriff was actually kind of scary when she would yell at us! After that we walked around on our own. Many of the cells had the death mask of different prisoners and then a plaque with their story. We also saw the area where they would do hangings in the jail. It was so interesting and definitely worthwhile to see.
Our last stop was St. Kilda. Our main goal was to see the penguins there! We walked around the town for awhile and then went down to the beach. At first we had no luck with the penguins but then we saw people taking pictures of the rocks and sure enough one was there! We also ended up seeing a couple more in the rocks in different areas. It was so cool to see them and they were much smaller than I was expecting. Then we headed back to the hostel, grabbed our bags, and were off to Sunny Coast! It was an awesome trip and I was so happy to spend my last trip in Australia with Brittany and Jess Buckles.
I also have to give a small shoutout to our hostel, United Backpackers. It was one of the nicest hostels I have stayed in (tied with Base in Sydney) and Jess and Brittany kept making fun of me about how much I loved it so this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning it. So if you are ever in Melbourne and looking for a quality hostel this is for you :)
So this past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to go to Sydney again. Brittany’s friends from New York, Kate, Nate, and Zack (cheers) came to visit her so we all went. I just want to start off this post with a CRAZY story. While they were here, all of us went to a Mexican place here on the Sunshine Coast called Mad Mex (similar to Chipotle, but not nearly as good). They were in line first and the guy making their food asked where they were from and they said New York, and he said that he thought it was a Cleveland accent. They told him that I was from Cleveland and he asked what college I go to and when I said Baldwin Wallace, he said that he graduated from there. What a small world!! I could not believe it.
So on Friday we departed for Sydney, a little later than anticipated because our flight was delayed. That night, since we got there so late, we went out to dinner and then just walked around the city. The restaurant we went to had American flags on the door and an advertisement to celebrate the 4th of July with them! Definitely wasn’t expecting to see something like that in Australia. The next day we had a tour of the Blue Mountains booked. It was about a two hour drive there but we stopped along the way to see different things. The bus drove us through the Blue Mountains and we would be able to get out and walk around at different points. The views were so beautiful! Towards the end, we got to go on a cable car and a railway throughout the Blue Mountains. They have the steepest railway in the world and I definitely believe it! We also changed our seats to make it even more of an incline so we were at a 62 degree angle. It was so steep that I had to hold onto the ceiling or I would’ve fallen onto the people it front of me! It was so fun and probably my favorite part of the tour. Included in our ticket was a ferry ride to get us back from the tour. On the way to the ferry, we passed by where the 2000 Olympics were held, so cool!!
That night, we went out in the infamous Kings Cross. It was definitely not as crazy as I was expecting, probably because it is winter and not the most popular time to go. It was so much fun regardless and I’m so happy we were able to do that!
The next day, Sunday, we got a hop on/hop off bus pass for the day. The first time, we took it the whole way so we could see the city and decide where we wanted to go. We went to Bondi Beach first. It is a really nice area with a lot of shops so we walked around there for awhile. The rest of the day was spent basically exploring the city, and before I knew it it was Monday and time to head back to the Sunny Coast! It is so much warmer here than it was in Sydney, but still not cold for winter at all! I would guess it was between 55-60 degrees on average. Here on the Sunshine Coast, I still wear shorts every day. Having a real winter when it rolls around next is going to be a very rude awakening!
In other news, my time here is running dangerously low. I leave in 15 days, but I’m in denial so we just won’t talk about that.