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!)