Saturday, June 19, 2010

Back to reality

Well, I have been home for about a week now. It's strange to be home, and Amazing as well. I love the familiar faces and places! I miss Australia, but am glad to be in the place that I call my true home. I arrived into MSP after about 30 hours of travelling. It was a rough trip, but I made it back in one piece!! I officially hate travelling and planes! Ah! The 14 hour plane ride from Sydney to LA wasn't as bad as it could have been. We had all the entertainment we could ever need on our own personal screens in front of us. I watched 5 movies!! It was great. And it made the trip faster. I was just anxious to see my family. When I finally did, I was so excited and happy! Minutes after I arrived, it felt like I never left. It was a great night.

I had one day of relaxation and adjustment, then I was back to work nannying on Monday. It was a huge reality check. I missed my kids a lot! But I have to say, I can't wait for summer to be over so I can officially move into my new apartment and get back into the swing of things at Eau Claire. I'm so excited for the new year and being back at my home university! I'll be a Senior so it will be a big year for me, graduating in the Spring if all goes as planned.

As much as I'm excited to start the new semester, nothing will ever top the semester I had abroad! :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Final thoughts...

Tomorrow is my last day in Australia. I cannot believe how fast it has gone by.. although I knew that it was going to fly by before my eyes. My study abroad experience was all that I could have ever hoped for! I feel like I have grown in many different ways. I came here very sheltered, and oblivious to other cultures and the world in general. Being here in a very multicultural society (its not just Aussies here) has made me a much more cultured and accepting person. I have also become much more independent!

I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity to live in another country for a semester, and it makes me appreciate home in a new way as well. And I'm forever grateful for the home I'm able to go back to, as I end my adventure. My family is such a high priority to me now, and I will never take them for granted. Not everyone has a family as great as mine, and I'm so lucky!

I am going to miss a lot of things about this place, and it's impossible to name all of them. I am going to miss my flatmate Ashleigh a lot! We have bonded to become good friends and I will miss seeing her every day. I'll miss being able to see the ocean whenever I want to.

This has been my life for the past 4 months, and it will feel strange to leave it all behind, but it's time to move on with the next chapter of my life. I will start my senior year of college in the fall, graduate next spring, and hopefully be starting my professional career soon after. This was a great phase of my life that I'll be able to remember forever!

I will write again about adapting back to life in the states, it will surely be interesting.. Pray for me on my long journey home!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Zealand is Sweet As!

Hello all!!

I have returned from the gorgeous untouched country of New Zealand! Seven friends and I took a 10 day bus trip around the south island. It was a very adventurous, fun-filled week and I still can't believe I got to go there! The differences between NZ and Aus are very slight but I could tell. The accents are different in a certain way... whenever there is a short E in a word they will make it long. For example, if they said "we have seven beds ready for you" it would sound like "we have seeeveeen beeeeds reeeady for you" And they say things like oh and no like oi and noi. It's kind of funny and I like imitating them! Australia is pretty environmentally "green" but NZ was the "greenest" country I've ever been to. Everywhere you go there are signs reminding you what to do to help the environment. It's great!

For our bus tour we stayed in a total of 5 hostels. We stayed in Christchurch our first 2 nights. There, we did a big pubcrawl our first night. That was interesting and a very good time! The next day we had the full day to explore the city. Let me tell you, if I ever moved here this is where I would live. I want to raise my family here! Haha. No really, everything is so clean and beautiful. Everyone is so nice. It is a pretty big city that feels quaint. It seemed like that in a lot of the places we went in NZ.

Main square in CC

Luckily it was a gorgeous day in CC when we explored that day. We went up in a gondola to the top of a mountain that overlooked the city, the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. I got some great pictures! We also walked around town and went to the weekend markets where vendors were selling some pretty unique items. That night we went to a bar called the Stock Xchange. It was a really unique bar, seeing that all the drink prices would change every 3 minutes and once every hour the market would "crash" and everything would be dirt cheap! Great idea for a business I'd say..

The next morning we headed on our way via the Tranz Scenic alpine train. It is one of the top 5 most scenic train rides in the world! It was gorgeous I never wanted to get off the train! We arrived in Greymouth where we boarded our first Coach bus that took us to Franz Josef. This small town (and I mean small. It consisted of 2 parallel roads basically) is home to a Glacier--Franz Josef glacier. Our hostel was so cute--it even had its own cat!--but it definitely did not have enough heat for a hostel located next to a glacier...BRR!

We got to do a glacier hike the next day! We had to get all suited up with gear provided by the company we went through. We even got big boots that had attachable "cramp ons" aka ice spikes for your shoes so we wouldn't slip everywhere. I felt like Yukon Cornelius in Rudolph!! It was a vigorous hike up to the glacier but it was all worth it with the amazing things we got to see! We got to slip through some tight crevaces and down a glacial cave, very cool!

That night we went to the Glacial hot pools that came with our hike package. Those felt very nice after a long day on the glacier :)

The next day we headed out again on our way to Queenstown! This was my favorite place of the whole trip. It felt like Aspen, with it's cozy hometown feel to it, and of course being able to see mountains in the background everywhere you go! This was where I was planning on skydiving, so I had to hope for perfect weather conditions! Unfortunately we weren't able to go because of the low clouds :( I was pretty bummed. But the day got better. A few of us went up another Gondola to see Queenstown from atop the mountain. Gorgeous views, yet again. Later, I went with all my friends who were brave enough to bungy jump the third highest bungy in the world. I was too chicken, but I had a BLAST watching them jump!!

We left Queenstown and spent a full day on a bus with a VERY obnoxious tour guide, Brian. He never stopped talking the whole day, and finally dropped us off at Milford Sound where we got to cruise around and have coffee. It was another great day--would've been nice to have for skydiving but oh well-- and I loved seeing the breathtaking sights of Milford.

That night our only option was to stay in Te Anau.. basically the only town for miles that is anywhere close to Milford Sound. We made do with what we had, board games and movies were our entertainment. (finally saw Avatar and it was AMAZING) The next morning we caught a bus to Dunedin, the only city in NZ with a University. So it is mainly a student town. My friend Nick's friend Dustin is studying there right now so we hung out with him a lot while we were there. We went to the Cadbury chocolate factory, that was sweeeeet!

The next morning we were supposed to catch our final bus back to Christchurch, but since it had been raining for like a week, all the roads were flooded and there was no way we were going anywhere on a bus that day. We were in a bit of a predicament, because we NEEDed to get back to CC in order to catch our 7AM flight the next day. Our only option was to fly to CC... That began our 24 hours of misery. It pretty much consisted of sitting in airports, sleeping, and flying.

It was great to finally arrive in Perth again! And being "home" feels good. But I only call this place home for 10 more days. Then I am states bound! I am so grateful for all the travelling I have gotten to do on my Study abroad :) It made the value of my experience so much greater. Not only did I get to study in another country, but I got to visit and appreciate a lot of other places too!

(It takes forever to upload pictures onto my posts so see my Facebook for all my pics!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jumpahs, thongs, lollies, and Maccas!

Hey there, I know I haven't written in a while! Sorry, just not too much to talk about that I haven't already mentioned. Nonetheless it's been a busy couple weeks! What with assignments due left and right, group meetings, and some relaxation on my downtime. It's been getting colder and colder lately! The other night I actually saw my breath outside! NOT OKAY! Haha. I had no idea it was going to actually get cold, I thought that was just a myth.... oops! So.. here I am without any decently warm clothes to wear. I brought heaps of tank tops and tshirts though. My bad.

I am getting ready to leave for New Zealand in 2 days! I just have to turn in 2 last assignments and then I'm home free! It'll be a great vacation after these last 6 weeks of school. After I get home, I have 2 finals spread out over the course of 5 days, then 5 more days to say goodbye to this wonderful place, then I'm on my way home!

For the rest of this post, I'm going to list all of the new words I have been learning over the course of my study abroad. It's crazy how many times I have to explain a word I say to my flatmate Ashleigh, and vice versa! We have to translate to each other.. and here I thought I was coming to an english speaking country ;-)

Trolley=Shopping cart
Tomato Sauce=Ketchup
2 Minute Noodles=Ramen
Thongs=Flip flops
Touch Wood=Knock on wood
Doona=Bed Comforter
How are you going?=How are you doing...(I get asked this any time I walk into a store)
Predrink= Pregame
Hair Lacky=Hair tie
Rubbish bin=Garbage can
Mobile=Cell phone
Capsicum=Bell Pepper
Rock Up=Show up "I hope my group members rock up"
Good on ya=Good for you, good job
Boot=Trunk (of car)
Heaps=Lots of/Tons
Skull=Chug a drink
No Worries=You're welcome/no problem
Reckon=to think, believe
Middy=Small glass of beer

Hope you learned something new!! :) I will definitely keep using some of these words when I come home!

Me in front of the Perth skyline

My favorite thing

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Missin' home

Lately I have been longing for the familiarities of home, I think all of us have! I'm not sure why, but it's just sinking in lately.

It could be that school is wrapping up in Eau Claire right about now, and I still have about 5 weeks to go. I cannot concentrate on school anymore!!! It's difficult. I feel like I will be leaving here with a much more relaxed outlook on school-not sure if that's a good thing. But I am positive that I will go home STILL not being used to the Australian school system. It's something I could never get used to, but great to see how they do it here!

I still can't believe I am studying abroad. Almost three years ago I went to Eau Claire for freshman orientation. I NEVER would have guessed that I would spend a semester in a whole different country halfway around the world. It's something that never crossed my mind, never thought I'd be one of those lucky people. My freshman advisor actually told me that I "probably wouldn't" study abroad... maybe I was out to prove him wrong! Anywho, it's changed me as a person no doubt. I feel like I can do anything now... well not anyyything. But I feel more confident and independent, which I wasn't really before. I feel more cultured, hanging out with people from ALL over the world. It might be weird being back in Eau Claire where obviously the majority is Wisconsinites.

Right now there isn't much exciting going on, since school is my top priority right now. I finally had the chance to visit Kings Park on Saturday. It is the biggest inner city park in the world, bigger than Central Park in NYC! It was soo gorgeous there! They have so many things to see: war memorials, views of the Perth skyline, botanical gardens, bridges, fountains, and a multitude of weddings!! I can't wait to go back and bring a book and just lay in the grass for hours! Even though it was kind of a trek to get there, it was so great!

Only 23 days until I leave for New Zealand! That will be the perfect way to bookend my amazing adventure! I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I reckon it's time for a new post...

Hey there! So I have not written since I got back from Cairns!! Yikes. It hasn't been that interesting though. Since I got back it's been mostly all about school. It's actually been getting more intense for me lately, which I like! More work to do means staying busy! I have been working on a group project in photography. We had to do a studio shoot and show that we could direct it creatively. My group decided to do portraiture by using colors to express emotion. After two hours in the studio one day, we got some great shots!! I think we will have a good presentation, which we give this Friday.

It seems like all my classes are based on group work... probably because here, they really want it to seem like you are actually out in the real world working with a team at a real job. This aspect is nice in the long run, but sometimes not so great if you don't have good group members. Luckily, I've had some great dedicated group members so far. In my marketing communications class, we got back our first big report that 4 of us worked on together. We got the highest grade in the class!! I was so happy/surprised. We have another report coming up that is due in a few weeks, hopefully we can ace that one as well!

Finally, in my marketing management class, we have been working on our semester-long group project. We have to create a marketing plan for a waste management plant that is nearby Murdoch. It is due in less than two weeks and we still have a lot of work to do!! But, I work best under pressure so hopefully that is a good thing.

In other news, I got another care package from my family! That is the third one! They send the best care packages... exactly what I need, plus a few surprises! They sent me my fave, Kraft Mac n cheese! I made it one night and my flatmate Ashleigh freaked out at how orange the "cheese" is. I laughed so hard! She tried it and said it tasted like plastic. I don't care, it's my favorite!

Today was an exciting day, we booked our trip to New Zealand!!! I am so excited that I get to go there! I've heard so many great things about it from people who have already had the chance to go. They said it's the most beautiful place in the world. We leave on May 20th, and embark on a 9-day tour around the south island. It was surprisingly cheap for what we're getting, and it sounds like we get to do A LOT of stuff! I cannot wait. Other than that, not too much new!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Living it up in Cairns!

This past week has been just amazing!!! I saw and did so many amazing things. It was a great experience for me because I did a lot of things that I wouldn't normally do, and I'm glad I did it all!!

We took off from Perth late Friday night and landed in Cairns at 4:15AM saturday morning. From there, we stored all of our luggage at our hostel-since check in wasn't until 2PM- and were on a bus to go white water rafting by 6:30AM. It was the perfect start to our adventure filled week! White water rafting was a thrilling and exciting experience! I had never gone before, and these were going to be 4-5 grade rapids! The highest are grade 6. We had a raft of 7 plus a tour guide. It was SO much fun!! We had to learn the basics of rafting such as leaning left or right, the 'get down' position, the 'hold on' position, etc. We even flipped one time, which was pretty shocking for me, I didn't like this as much as everyone else seemed to! But other than that, white water rafting was a great time, and I'm so glad I did it!!

Our rafting group!!

We went back to the hotel after our extremely long day! We all pretended like we were up for going out, but in the end we ended up in bed around 10PM. I slept great that night. The next morning we were up early again to catch our boat to the Great Barrier Reef. I was sad I couldn't go to Easter church like I had planned, though... It took about 2.5 hours to get out to the actual reef where we would be snorkeling. I didn't realize how sea sick I was going to get, so the ride there was pretty torturous. Once we got out to the reef, we had to put on sting proof wet suits to protect us from the jelly fish. The snorkeling was the best I've ever done, and I've done it quite a bit! I even got to pet a wild sea turtle's shell as it was coming up for air!! It was amazing. We went to another spot for snorkeling as well, then headed back to Cairns. We ate dinner at the famous Woolshed bar and grill and had a pretty low key night. Once again, we were all wiped from the day's activities.

Me in my sting proof wet suit!

The next day, a few of our group members decided to go sky diving... which they said was the best thing they've ever done. I kinda wish I had gone.. maybe I can go in New Zealand.. that is if I get to go. The rest of us explored the city and went souvenir shopping that day. Out of the blue, I decided that I wanted to get my nose pierced! I got it done at the shop that was right next to our hostel, Gilligans. It hurt, but only for 10 seconds while it was being pierced. Since then, it hasn't hurt at all!! I love it!

Nose ring!

The next day we went on another day long tour, this time to the rainforest! We boarded a bus with about 20 people and had a crazy tour guide who knew a lot about everything we saw! Even though it was absolutely pouring that day, it was still great! We saw a lot of waterfalls and powerful rapids! We stopped at a chocolate and cheese factory and saw some farm animals. It was a jam packed day, and it was worth it for only $45! That night, we went out to a Mexican restaurant with the group and some new friends. It was so good! At Gilligan's that night, there was a jello wrestling competition that some of the girls did! It was so funny to watch. I also had to register for my fall classes at 1 AM that night, so that was interesting!

At boulder ridge rapids

Wednesday was amazing!! We were supposed to do a day trip up north to Cape Tribulation, but 5 of us were too tired to go and we didn't want to spend the money. Instead, the 5 of us went and rented mopeds for the day! I was the only one who had never done it alone, so I had to have a mini lesson. Turns out I was a natural! Even on driving on the left hand side of the road, which is what I was most worried about! We drove around the city and then into the rainforest where we stopped at Crystal Cascades-some rapids. Once we got back I had to get ready, because I was meeting up with Stef and her family! They happened to be visiting Cairns the same time that I was! Ashlee was also there with her mom, so it was a great reunion!! We all went out to dinner together, it was great to catch up!

On my moped!

Stef and I on her hotel balcony!

The next day a few people went bungy jumping, but I'm too much of a wuss for that! We all ended up doing some shopping at the mall in Cairns. We didn't do much else during the day. That night I met up with Stef again at her hotel. We ate at Macca's )McDonalds) and went shopping at the night markets. Such great deals! There was a man there that had snakes and he was letting people hold them. I held one!!! It was so cool/freaky. I'm glad I did it. After the markets, we went back to Stef's hotel and tried to swim in the hot tub, but it had been switched off for the night, so it was basically bath tub temperature. Stef and her dad walked me back to Gilligans, but then I went out to meet up with friends who were at the Woolshed bar. It was a great last night in Cairns.

Holding a snake, AH!!

Our last day, we had to check out at 10AM. Then we went to the public pool that is right on the ocean. It was free and so beautiful out! This was the one day I got some sun, actually burnt! We got a taxi to the airport around 4:30 and got back to Perth at 9PM.

The public pool in Cairns

I've been back for a day now, and it's really hard getting back into the swing of things! I have so many deadlines looming! I can't imagine going to school here full time. It's too hard to stay motivated when there are so many awesome things to see and do! I'll do my best though!