Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Soaking it in

It's been about a month since Thailand, and now I have about a month until I leave. How is this all going by so fast?! I'm already feeling nostalgic for something I have yet to leave.

Thailand was indescribable. Truly a life changing experience. I've been to a few other countries, like Ireland, England, Spain, and of course Australia. But I have never been to Asia, or a third world country. The culture there is so different from anything I've ever seen. Our trip started in Bangkok. While there, we traveled to the Floating Markets, Kanchanaburi Tiger Temples, White Po, Grand Palace, Khao San Road, and a few other temples. From there, we took an over night train to Surat Thani, where we took a ferry to Kao Sok National Park - aka the most gorgeous place I have ever been, and probably will ever be, in my entire life. From there we went to Koh Phangnan, where we went to beach parties, rode elephants, snorkeled, and relaxed. After our program ended, my friends and I went to Koh Samui for our last two days for a little R&R. Truly an unbelievable experience.

The past month in Sydney has been amazing. I've gotten so much closer with all of my friends here, we're like a little family! We've gotten to be great chefs, cooking a lot of dinners together. That's something I never thought I'd be able to do, cooking isn't exactly in my genes (cough, Mom). With one month left to go, my friends and I have made a bucket list of everything we need to do in Sydney before leaving. I can't wait to start checking things off the list!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Break: See ya, Sydney!

Life is such a whirlwind here! I left off with Brisbane and Fraser, so let's start there. It was my very first weekend trip (other than a day trip to Hunter Valley), and I was VERY pleased with how little time you actually need at the airport! While I'm slightly sketched out by the fact that no one even checked my ID, security took 2 minutes, and then I was on the plane!

We had an amazing day in Brisbane. We had very little expectations, since we were only flying there as it was our cheapest option for the Fraser Island tour. We got there at 7am, so we were exhausted, but we made the best of it. We walked around for hours just checking out restaurants and cute little boutiques, and went to THE BEST art gallery I have ever been to, the Gallery of Modern Art. We went to a nice birthday dinner for one of my friends, which was a great way to end our one day tour-de-Brisbane.

The next morning we got picked up for Fraser Island. It was certainly an experience! We traveled in a rugged 4WD Jeep the whole time, just running all around the island to see fresh water lakes, sand dunes, shipwrecks, and all of the Fraser hotspots. It was by no means a relaxing vacation, but it was such a cool trip.

After Brisbane and Fraser, I spent one weekend in Sydney, and then went on another trip! This past weekend my friend Bryn (a fellow Mountain Hawk!) and I flew to the Gold Coast to see Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise. It rained 3/4 days, but we still had such a great time. Byron Bay is officially my new favorite beach, well, next to Coogee. It's a great little hippie beach town with so many amazing stores. Surfers Paradise was a lot more touristy - think Miami - with tall hotel buildings, a lot of shopping, and what looked like a good beach. It was a great weekend getaway, and we felt as if we spent the perfect amount of time in each place.

The past two weeks I've had a lot of assignments due i.e. papers, take home exams, tests, etc. But now, all that hard work has paid off because I am OFF TO THAILAND TOMORROW! Wish me luck :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Preparing for Brisbane and Fraser Island

This weekend I'm finally taking my first big trip since I landed in Sydney. I'm heading to Brisbane and Fraser Island with one of my best friends from home, Jenny, who's on the study abroad program with Boston University. We fly in on Friday morning, spend the day in Brisbane, and get picked up for a Four Wheel Drive tour of Fraser Island that'll last two days. It's going to be incredible!

Everything has been going really well here. It's so crazy to think that we've been here for a month and a half - where has the time gone?! Last I wrote, I was about to celebrate my 21st birthday. My birthday was on a Monday, when I had a full day of classes, so we went to Hunter Valley to go wine tasting the next day. What a GREAT trip. We went to five different wineries, tasted some amazing wine, and had a really nice day out of Coogee.

Another big change since I last wrote is...I am officially interning at Rolling Stone Australia! It is actually a dream come true. I started last week, and I couldn't be happier. So far, I've been doing research, transcribing interviews, and writing reviews myself that might get published in the magazine. Is this Almost Famous?

I'm a little worried about taking care of my schedule while I'm here for next semester. It's great that the time was moved at 7am, because that means it'll be 10pm for me! I like to organize a lot for registration so being here is a little stressful for me, but I've already heard from all 3 of my advisors and they're all being so helpful. It definitely eases the pressure!

I'm off to bed before a full day of class and a jam packed weekend - I'll be sure it update with some pictures of the tour!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sick in Sydney

Hello from beautiful Coogee Beach! It's been a while since I've written, and for those waiting on bated breath for my next blog post, I apologize. Truth be told, internet is EXPENSIVE. Plus, I've been too busy doing fun things to write about! So that makes it okay, right? Anyway, I've been pretty sick the past few days, so what better time to take a moment and blog?

The last time I wrote, I was off to the last day of orientation. Since then, classes have started! We just finished up our second week, and things are going well so far. My schedule is still a little bit up in the air as I haven't been placed at an internship yet, but this Monday I have an interview with Rolling Stone Australia! Talk about a dream come true. If I get an internship, the classes I will be taking are: Australian Cinema and TV, Contemporary Approaches to Cinema, and Marine Environment.

Over the past two weeks we've done a lot of exploring around Sydney. We discovered Eastgartens and Bondi Junction Malls, we have done the gorgeous walk from Coogee to Bondi (it takes about 1.5 hours, but it's beautiful), we saw Chelsea Handler at the Sydney State Theater, we went to the first rugby match of the season, and have spent a lot of time at the beach! Oh, and studying, of course.

I've been here for a month, and I feel as if the time is flying by. My friends and I are starting to book trips, which is incredibly exciting. We just booked spring break in Thailand, on a program called Thaintro. Thailand is the one place I've been dying to go to, so it's safe to assume that I'm counting down the days.

The week ahead is going to be amazing. Tomorrow we're going to a surf competition in Bondi, and my roommate and I are going to Future Music Festival. It's a lot of techno and house music which isn't really my style, but we have VIP tickets, so that should be fun. Sunday we're going to the Taste of Sydney Food festival. Monday is my 21st birthday, so after classes and my interview we're going to a nice dinner in the city. Tuesday we're going to Hunter Valley, which is like Napa Valley wine country, for wine tasting. Last but not least, Thursday we're going on a cruise around Darling Harbor for St. Patty's day. It's definitely going to be a jam packed week!

That's all for now! I'll try to keep you guys more up-to-date next week.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

G'Day, mate!

My last few days in America were beyond hectic. Believe me when I say you do NOT want to know how packing went. Despite all six weeks of preparation, I still didn’t even finish packing until an hour before leaving for the airport. The night before I even went to Rutgers University to cheer on my a cappella group, The Lehigh Melismatics, in a big competition. I’m just happy that I somehow managed to not get an over-weight baggage charge. Hoorah!

I had been dreading the flight over more than anything else. I’ve been flying all of my life, but last year, when visiting my best friend Shannon in Barcelona, I developed an irrational fear of flying. I literally have spent every flight since gripping the arm rests and square breathing. I’m not sure what it was – perhaps my friend Sarah talking to me and keeping my mind off of things – but I made it through the flights with no problem. I slept a lot, and it only took me a day or so to stop feeling jetlagged. All in all, I’d say it was a success!

We spent the next four days at the Sydney Academy of Sports and Recreation in Narabeen. Truthfully, I was a little antsy to get to my apartment in Coogee, but orientation ended up being pretty fun. We had time to get to know our roommates, housemates, and people in our program, which was really nice. We went to the Taragona Zoo, walked around Circular Quay, took surfing lessons, and had some aboriginal bands perform for us. The orientation was a really great way for us to get over our jetlag, get to know each other, and introduce us into Australian culture.

On Friday we finally got to move into our apartments. My expectations were more than exceeded. Our apartment, which is brand new, is about a five-minute walk from the beach, and has a ton of security. It’s fully furnished with a big living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and two bath. We have four balconies in our apartment alone. How crazy is that?!

This past week my friends and I have been doing a lot of exploring. I think we’ve eaten at pretty much every restaurant there is in Coogee, have done shopping in Randwick and Eastgartens, gone to the Sydney Aquarium, of course gone to the beach, and have gone to UNSW a few times for orientation-related things. I’m actually off to our last day of Orientation Week now!

That’s all for now. It’s funny to think that there’s snow on the ground at Lehigh University, and I’m about to walk out of the house in a sun dress. I’m not complaining ☺

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Final Countdown

As of today, I have officially begun the one week countdown until I leave for Australia! None of this has felt real until today, and I have to say I'm experiencing a lot of emotions. Let's take a look at them, shall we?

This past week I went on what I liked to a call a "Tour De College". I escaped work early due to the Snowpocalypse on Tuesday, and headed down to Lehigh when the coast was clear. It was a perfect visit. I stayed with my best friend for a few days, which was great since she's graduating after this semester. While I was there I got to see almost everyone I wanted to. The highlight: we built an igloo. Literally. It was awesome. I came home on Thursday night, took a breather, and then headed up to SUNY Albany. Two of my best friends from home go there, so I wanted to stay with them before I left. We had a nice get-together at their house last night, which was really fun. All in all, it was a really fun week. I'm so happy I got to visit my friends, but at the same time it's bittersweet. I'm going to miss them all so much!

Today I came home from SUNY Albany because my mom insisted on having a going-away party. I really didn't want to have such a production all for me, and I was really hesitant, but it ended up being just fine. So many people came - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers, friends! - and it just made me feel so loved. To top off the day, I got an awesome cake and a ton of early birthday money!

Now that I'm in the home stretch, I am feeling stressed. I feel as if I've been shopping forever, but still don't have all that I need. I feel as if I am never going to be able to fit everything I need in 106 inches of suitcase. I feel as if my mom may never stop nagging me about how my clothing is all over the living. I feel anxious because I am a terrible flyer, and I feel badly for my friend Sarah who has to sit next to me during the flight.

But most importantly? I feel excited. See you in seven days, Oz!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow, Snow, Go Away

The countdown is now at two and a half weeks, and we are on the millionth snow fall of 2011. I am NOT a fan of the cold weather, but at school it never really seemed so bad. I was talking to one of my best friends from Lehigh this morning who is at school, and she was telling me that a bunch of my friends are going sledding this afternoon. I wish I could go sledding with them!

Instead I'm in New Jersey, completely snowed in. Today is my day off from work and I had a day full of errands planned. I wanted to order Australian Dollars, do some summer clothes shopping, go to the gym (bathing suit weather in less than three weeks?!), and so much more. But I'm still managing to be productive! I'm reading my IFSA-Butler brochures, making to-do and packing lists, thinking about budgeting while I'm abroad, and actually cleaning my room a little. Not too bad for a snow day!

That's all for now. Unfortunately, working two jobs doesn't make for a very exciting life. At least I have so much to look forward to in just a few weeks!