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Home Sweet Home

Time July 18th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I have now been home for about 2 weeks! I am feeling great! It feels like I have not skipped a beat in the last 5 months. I am now working a 40 hr a week job and getting back into the flow of things. I did not have bad jet leg and I think this is because I instantly went to bed when it was night time… with the help of some sleeping pills for about a week. Telling my friends and family about my trip is fun, but at the same time I only tell them so much because I know that they do not have the same experiences of being there and really understanding. I have not had any culture shock coming back to the US yet, but maybe that will still come. Anyways, this is it! My study abroad adventure has come to an end as well as my blog. Thanks for reading! P.S. STUDY ABROAD!!!!!

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New Zealand!

Time July 8th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I arrived in New Zealand a little later than expected due to my flight being cancelled, but I am now in Auckland!!! I am really enjoying my time here as I am staying with friends, Rob and Mary. First thing in the morning I bungy jumped off Auckland’s harbor bridge. This was a lot of fun! Before I put my toes to the ledge to jump I was cool as a cucumber. My nerves were at a very low until I looked down past my toes and gravity took over… I was a goner! I closed my eyes tight while I free fell for a couple seconds. It was liberating! I want to do a bigger one now or I wouldn’t mind going sky diving! (Dad, I’m ready, you told me that we would jump together one day J)

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After I jumped Rob and Mary took me on a day tour of northern Auckland. We went by car traveling all along the coast up from Auckland, visiting the north shore beaches. This was a very nice tour. I got to see where Rob’s kids, Rebecca, Kylee and James grew up. I also learned about the islands and the multiple extinct volcanoes around Auckland. It is very interesting. In Minnesota we do not have volcanoes. Seeing what they look like, as they are extinct is really cool. They look like little mountains that have grass and plants on them, with the top point sunk in about ¼ the way down. We also went up the sky tower. This was something that I really enjoyed. I got to see, from a bird’s eye view, where I had been that day (quite a ways) and just how beautiful Auckland is.

This is a picture of Rangi Toto Island. It is an island that people do not live on, but travel by boat to hike up and enjoy the beautiful sights.

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Rob bought me this beautiful necklace. It is a Maori (the native people of NZ) tradition to give (someone cannot buy one for themselves) someone one of their necklaces. There are five necklaces that are all made of jade, but are shaped differently. The necklace that Rob gave me is a twist or crossover necklace. “It’s a seamless design that can involve a single or several turns. It represents the “bonding of a special friendship or relationship.” This necklace means a lot to me and is very special that Rob gave it to me. To say the least, I love it :)

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The next day Mary and I went to the west coast and visited Piha beach. This beach has all black sand; this is so beautiful. The sand is black because of the high amounts of iron near the beach. In the summer the black sand can even burn your skin! Besides the beautiful black sand this beach has another charm, the Lion. Lion is a large mountain on the beach that looks like a lion. You can even take a hike up Lion! This looked like a pretty short, but nice hike. We did not hike up Lion due to the rains that have made the hike slippery. Lion got its name because of it looks like a lion; on the left is the lion’s head and on the right is its tail.

After walking along the beach and admiring the scenery on our way back to the city, Mary took me to the harbor in Auckland. As we went on a nice walk around the harbor Mary told me about the buildings. Many of the buildings are only 2 years old along the harbor, which were completed right before the Viaduct, for the Americas Cup and Waynyard Quarter for the Rugby World Cup. Others are older buildings that are now being revamped in the inside. Almost every other building along the harbor seemed to be new! This is a very nice area. To give you a feel of the area, I would go out for a “night on the town” with friends here, hypothetically.

The next day I went on a Nakedbus day tour to Waitomo and Rotorua. This was very fun! Our day began at 7:15 am; we hopped on the bus and headed out to Waitomo Glowworm caves.

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At this cite we went on a walking/boat tour of the caves where we saw thousands of Glowworms and learned about their habitat.

From here we got back on the bus and headed to a sheep farm. This was a highlight of my day because I love being around animals and we were outside the most at this cite. Right when we arrived we saw a sheep dog do its thing by herding the sheep into their pen.

Then we got to see a sheep being sheered and learned some interesting facts.

After the sheep sheering show we went on this trailer ride that took us around the farm. We got to feed sheep, lamas, and the rams! I did not like the rams. When I was trying to feed a lama a ram came up and literally rammed me right next to my crotch! This hurt so bad! I felt like I had just gotten bit it hurt that bad! To say the least, I have been mentally and physically bruised due to multiple beatings by the ram.

During the trailer ride we also saw and learned about the kiwi and olive trees. The kiwis that they grow are used for wine and the olives for olive oil.

Once the tour was over we got back on the bus and headed to Rotorua. Here we had the opportunity to learn about the native people of New Zealand, the Maouri People. This was really cool. They put on a show for us that included their native songs and dance.

From there we continued on to the Geysers and the boiling mud! The Geyers are very beautiful; we were even there when they went off!

The boiling mud reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory river.  :)

A nice meal with Rob, Mary and Justin concluded the evening. The next morning I woke up at 5am to continue my journey to my final destination, HOME!

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Goodbye Australia

Time July 8th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I have one more day here in Australia. It is unreal that I am here, let alone that I am leaving in a day. I am so excited to go home to see all my friends and family, but I think that I am going to miss it here too. I think about all the things I have learned, the people I have met and the adventure I have endured. Five months have gone by so fast!

On my last day in Australia I got to surf!!! This was so much fun! I got together with Rebecca and Kylee, (Rob’s daughters, who I’m staying with in New Zealand) and we went to Burleigh Heads. We had some lunch and then jumped into the ocean! Surfing is very difficult for the untrained! It was so hard to keep motivated to keep paddling when the waves just kept pushing me further and further back. I definitely need to be in better shape to give surfing a real chance! My time in the water was kinda short due to my lack of ability, but that didn’t mean that our time together was cut short. After the beach we went to a costume shop! Rebecca’s daughter Navie is turning 3 and they are having an ocean character themed party. Rebecca and Kylee wanted to have some fun themselves and dress up too. They played mermaid dress up to find the right costume! Once the right costumes were found, we said our goodbyes and it was back to the village for me.

My last night in the village was a weird one, as in my emotions. I did not want to pack or clean my apartment, but I didn’t want to just sit around with friends thinking about leaving one another. After cleaning and packing I said goodbye to my friends and hit the sheets.

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Time June 17th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

As I am approaching finals here in Australia, I found this quote to be very fitting.

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. 

-A. Einstein

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Whitsunday Islands!

Time June 17th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

During “study week” my friends Brittany, Sam and I went on a sailing trip to the Whitsunday Islands! This was a very fun experience, but also a cold one. The season of winter is rolling in here, even though its not really cold, its not necessarily beach weather. Despite the weather this trip was a lot of fun!

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We got to Airlie Beach in the morning while our sailing trip did not begin until the following day in the afternoon; so we checked into our hostel and went to the lagoon for some sun!

And the fun didn’t stop when the sun went down…

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Morning of our sailing adventure!!
We started the trip off putting all our personal items into trash bags because we could not bring zippers onto the boat. This was quite an interesting start to our trip; imagine three young girls carrying large trash bags around this small town. To say the least we got a couple looks.

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After a walk to the marina we were ready to get on the boat, along with about 20 international travelers around our age. As soon as we started sailing, even though we used the motor, many people on the boat started feeling very seasick. Thankfully I did not get too sea sick the first day as we sailed for about 4 hours. Once we docked the boat we had some dinner and just hung out for the rest of the night.

The next morning we were woken up early with the New Horizon wake up call, quite a funny song I wish I could remember it! Then we were off again sailing to Hamilton Island. On this small island is the famous Whitehaven beach. This was a very beautiful island, but it was quite chilly as it was only about 9 am and windy! I didn’t swim, but it was cool to get pictures of the 2nd most photographed area in Australia!!!

Back on the boat we went to go snorkel the Great Barrier Reef! I was very excited for this, although it was very cold!! I was expecting the reef to be really bright and very full like on TV, but I was soon to realize that it is not really like that. This is not because it was dead (dead coral turns white), but that’s just the way it is and a cloudy day doesn’t help either. Overall seeing the Great Barrier Reef was really a great experience. I got to see some really big fish, rainbow fish (LOVE THEM!) and lots of small blue and yellow ones.

That night after dinner everyone was just hanging out on the deck and a dolphin came to say hello!! This was so cool! I got to see a dolphin in the wild! The dolphin kept swimming from one side of the boat to the other for about 10 minutes, it was awesome!

The final day on the boat we were woken up early and headed to another snorkeling site. It was freezing again, but I had to do it. When again was I ever going to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef?! O, and by the way the Great Barrier Reef will be gone in 50 years! Crazy huh? All the tourism is killing the reef; therefore this wonder of the world is going to be short lived.

This basically rounds up our trip! We sailed back to Airlie Beach and said goodbye with our trash bags in hand. 😉

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Classes, Check!!!

Time June 3rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Attention Everyone!

I have now completed all my classes, only a project and two final tests to go!!! Then I am officially a Senior :) This is so weird to think about. I do not feel like I am this old, im just a big kid!

As some of you know, at my university here in Australia we have a study week before the two week span of finals. My two finals are at the very end of the last week of finals. This means that I basically have a month break before finals! I’m liking it! :) hopefully I will get some studying done.

During this big break I will be sailing the Whitsunday Islands here in Australia!! I am so excited to do this! Here is a little synopsis of what I will be doing. Living on a sailboat (yes, sleeping and all!) for a couple days while sailing to different beautiful islands, snorkeling the great barrier reef, soaking in the sun, paddle boarding and much fun! I am ecstatic,  a dream come true! I did not think that this would be possible financially, but thanks to Mom and Dad I get to live my dream!!!! Thank you Mom and Dad!!! Love you much!

I will be posting when I get back from my sailing adventure, but until then I will keep living the dream!!!!

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IFSA-Butler Farewell Dinner

Time May 28th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past week we had our IFSA-Butler farewell dinner at this really nice restaurant, Saks. This dinner didn’t really feel like a farewell dinner though because we still have a month left and we are not nearly ready to say goodbye to each other or Australia. We have become a little family, serious its kinda funny how that happens. When we left our support systems back home we all kinda just automatically bonded and became each others new family. Back to the dinner, it was a 3 course meal!

For appetizer I had calamari! It was so good, first time having it and loved it! The rest of the meal was absolutely delicious! I had a very fancy hot chocolate, stuffed chicken and cheesecake for dessert. Overall it was a fun night out, thanks IFSA-Butler!

 

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News Photography Final

Time May 28th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

One of my classes this semester is News Photography. We have had multiple assignments throughout the semester, but our final is the sweetest project yet. This project is a character portrait in the studio! This is a legit photography studio people! Take a look

There are no pictures of me taking Sam’s picture but this gives you an idea. One of the girls had her friend who is a pole dancer and ballerina be her subject and the other had the HOT AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC swimmer as hers. This was a lot of fun as you can imagine! Plus its a real studio!! We had to set up the lights and use our photography skills to get the whole set right! This was a fun, but 8 hour long journey! Half way through we took a break and grabbed food from Nando’s. This food was so so good!

We also had a very interesting conversation about tampons. Well lets just say Australians like theirs and Americans like theirs! So many funny conversations with these girls! Sorry to the males out there, but its gotta be said.

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Volunteering

Time May 28th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

With my university back home I have to complete volunteering hours to fulfill my minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. Unfortunately this volunteering has been a big process! Here in Australia they do not like having short term volunteers at all! I am not kidding! So I decided to volunteer with this particular program that I really liked. I traveled to Brisbane, an hour and a half each way, for over 10 hours of training and everything. Once I told them that I will be going home to the U.S. at the end of June they completely dropped me as a volunteer! I was like what! This is something that I have never experienced in Minnesota. It is just interesting. Anyways, I had a mini break down because I cannot graduate with that minor unless I have tutoring time abroad. My home university advisor was fortunately very understanding and said that it would be ok and that she would accept the training hours I have completed. This was such a relief! Anyways…  now that this little vent session is over heres a pic to give you an idea what it was like to travel to Brisbane at 5:30am on the bus/train! Joys!!!!

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Can I just say that I am glad this is over?

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Broad Beach Babes (BBB)

Time May 28th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Sam and I decided to go to Broad Beach one day to relax and soak up the sun. This was exactly what I needed! After a couple hours we met up with some friends at the Hard Rock Cafe in Surfers for 50 cent wings! They were delicious! Nice to have someone serve us after making so many meals for ourselves! Where is the University Dining Center when you want one!? Nothing real eventful this week happened, just hanged out and BBBed it!

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Thanks Renata & Seth!

Time May 13th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So as most of you already know I do not have an oven in my flat. This is a sad thing for me because I love baking and here I have done very very little of it. One day when I  was Skyping my sister Renata and her husband Seth we got on the topic of food. They live in South Korea at the moment and also do not have an oven. She told me that she made no bake cookies and I was immediately so excited! They gave me the recipe and  of course I made them! They are oatmeal peanut butter cookies. Making these cookies was such a relaxing time for me. Everyone has a stress relieving activity and mine is definitely baking. Making these cookies reminded me of home and put me in my happy place :)

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Wish I would have…

Time May 13th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

While my friends and I were on the beach stargazing we had some profound thoughts. Ok maybe not so profound, but I would definitely say that we have gained some wisdom since we arrived three months ago. Back to on the beach, we talked about the things we wish we would have done right away when we arrived in Australia.

First off, I wish I would have made a bank account within the first week of being here. Having an Australian bank account is an overall convenience. I just made mine about a week ago (hence to why I wish I would have made it earlier) so I can receive money back on my prescriptions. Incase anyone doesn’t know you need to have a bank account in the country you reside in to get money from your insurance company. Lesson learned by me!

Getting a job immediately would have been the ideal situation. Before I even left America I decided that I was not going to get a job abroad because I wanted to “enjoy my time.” Honestly, I think I would be enjoying my time even more if I had a job because I would be able to travel so much more with the extra money! Plus Australian’s get paid so much more than Americans at everyday jobs. This is because everything in Australia is so expensive.

Along with Australia being so expensive, I wish I would have made a weekly budget and stuck to it! Yes, granted the amount of money spent a week would have been adjusted to the prices here, but it would have been a good visual reference to have. The first month here everything was so new and exciting that a strict budget was not really in mind.

I just bought a comforter, like yesterday and its amazing! I am telling you, when studying abroad buy a real blanket right away… do not try to get by with the blanket you stole off the plane. Last night was the first night I have slept all the way through and I think that it largely has to do with being warm!  Do it and splurge 23 bucks for warmth and comfort.

Something that my friends wish they would have done was lived with all girls. Their places are so gross you cannot even imagine. I mean people have maggots and ants everywhere! That is so gross! Living with girls is just overall nicer because they are generally cleaner, don’t eat food thats not theirs and I would say girls have a little more respect for one another and their boundaries.

Another thing that I wish I would have done before I left for Australia was figure out all my classes for next semester back home. I did figure out classes that I wanted to take but a couple of them didn’t work out so now I have to figure that out when I get back. Its hard to motivate yourself to do things for back home when your living in paradise. Trust me… my motivation for anything besides fun is at about a 1 out of 10.

The NUMBER ONE thing I wish I would have done right when I got here is figured out my mandatory volunteering (from my home university). Like I said motivation is lacking for anything outside the realm of fun. Now I am cramming to find a place that will let me volunteer for 10 times teaching english and it may seem easy, but its not here. There are a lot of trainings and stuff you have to go through just to teach English as a volunteer!! Not like Minnesota thats for sure. Plus you gotta add in figuring out somewhere that you can use public transit to get to, that adds another struggle! Overall, it would have been much easier to figure this out earlier.

I recommend everyone studying abroad to make a list of all the “have to” activities you want to do while abroad and stick to it! Make sure you budget for each of the activities and check them off as you go!

One thing we all agree on is save money for traveling and fun activities, DO NOT spend money going out!!

Anyways, thats our thought process of what we wish we would have done before and right when we got to Australia. You live and you learn right! Until next time, keep living and learning :)

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Surfers Paradise Beach

Time May 3rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Surfers Paradise Beach is very close to where I live in Southport. It is basically the downtown area of where I live, plus the ocean! On days that I don’t really know what to do or want to just get out I go to Surfers. I think of it this way, I came to Australia for the ocean so why not spend a lot of time at it? When in doubt, I go to the ocean!

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A usual routine in surfers, when out at night or just laying out on the beach, is Maccers 30 cent ice cream cones. This is the cheapest thing you can get that is sweet in Australia! They are pretty small, but worth every cent!

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Making a REAL Meal

Time May 3rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Sam Britt and I thought it was about time to make a real meal two and half months into our time in Australia. When I say “real” meal, I mean using the oven to cook a meal.  Since we do not have an oven in our flats we have to use the villages communal oven. This kitchen is a nice industrial one so it is at least a spiffy one! We decided to make homemade lasagna garlic bread and cookies… well I added the cookies part :) A funny little excerpt about the lasagna, when lasagna was mentioned I was like ya lets do it! Ill grab it from the freezer section. Both Britt and Sam stopped walking, turned toward me and then looked at each other confused. I said ya know like Stouffers. They both laughed and said no, were making homemade. Apparently they don’t eat Stouffer lasagna like we do in the Thielen household! 😉 making homemade lasagna was fun to do, the girls taught me how to make a simple homemade lasagna and I had a grand ol’ time baking! For those of you who do not know me very well, I love baking! Serious, I love baked goods and it is a sort of a relaxing mechanism for me. That night we ate well!

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Weekend in Brizzy

Time April 25th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past weekend Sam, Brittany and I went to Brisbane to visit our IFSA-Butler friends who go to University of Queensland. We took the train up to Brizzy which took about two hours and when we got off the train we had some lovely faces waiting for us! It was so nice to see them again, right from the start I knew this weekend was going to be fun and a nice break from the village (where I live). Once we dropped our stuff off in their apartment, which is very nice, we walked around the town to find something to eat. We ended up going to this mexican restaurant which was so delicious!!! I had yet to have good mexican food in Australia, but man was this place ever good!!! I only had one taco, but was it ever delicious! The rest of the evening was chill, we  just hung out and chatted the night away.

The next morning was Saturday. We woke up, ate breakfast and went to the lagoon. This lagoon is a man made pool that is smack dab in the middle of the city! It was really cool actually. The pool is a sand pool so it felt like I was at the ocean, but with chlorine water. It was a perfect day for sunbathing in the morning, nice temperature and everything. At the lagoon there was a performer who juggled and made horrible jokes. Something else that was refreshing to see was older people and young kids. In surfers paradise there is a very small population of elderly people and small kids bee popping around. Surfers is mainly filled with uni students give or take a few years.

After a couple hours at the lagoon we made our way to the market. This market is only on Saturdays from 12-2pm I believe. It was fun to be in a market again, it reminded me of the market I went to in Bangkok with lots of fresh meat, vegetables, fruit and hand made products. Since I arrived in Brizzy, Nina and I had been talking obsessively about bananas. How they are so expensive here, but how delicious they are… especially frozen with chocolate! So as you know we were at the market and of course they were selling bananas! We got a great deal on 3 kilos of bananas for 4 bucks! They were these little miniature bananas that I don’t remember the name of, so good though! Anyways we had a plan of action right after we bought them! We were going to make our own chocolate covered frozen bananas!! Indeed be bought chocolate chips to melt in the microwave and spread on the mini bananas :) This was quite the fin process and they turned out great!!

Once the banana frenzy was complete and they were in the freezer we were all wiped. Sam and Brittany took naps while Nina, Anna and I chatted it up about the happenings in Massachusetts and life in general. That evening we went out for delicious burgers and had a night out in the valley, an area in Brizzy. We went out that night with a bunch of ISFA-Butler friends, good to reunite and I even met a few guys who grew up near me in Minnesota!

Sunday morning we got some Starbucks and headed back to the village. Overall it was a fun, relaxing weekend that was well worth the trip!

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Portion Size

Time April 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Portion sizes are so much smaller here!!! I cannot believe how small they are. I feel like I need to eat twice the portion size of something that is regular size. This plays into how expensive everything is too!!! It is ridiculous! So I was in class yesterday and saw these girls with their coffee’s in front of me. Please check these out for a moment…

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The one on the left is seriously a 1 and 1/3 cup serving-that is a small here folks. I believe that the coffee on the left is a medium. So small!!! This is portion control on steroids!

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Kangaroo

Time April 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I thought it was about time to try some kangaroo in Australia! Sam and I cooked some on the grills outside by the pool. It tasted pretty great actually, once we cooked them a little longer than rare. But the thing is, kangaroo is very red meat so it was hard for us to tell when they were done rare… rare did not taste so great-if it was even rare… :/ haha

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So you may wonder how we get to the grocery store. Well to answer that question we either take the public bus during the day or walk to the nearest grocery store called IGA. This is not the closest walk ever it probably takes at least 25 minutes and carrying all your groceries that long is unrealistic. So what do we do? Well, we just take shopping carts and roll them back to our flats of course!! Its kinda funny seeing a bunch of uni students strolling through neighborhoods and the woods with IGA shopping carts. I will never judge someone again for walking down the street with a shopping cart! Hey, if you don’t have a car you get creative!!!

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Also, I thought I would share with you a very productive activity that I did today…

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LAUNDRY!!!! (so proud-its a big job as you can see)

 

 

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BUGS

Time April 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The bugs in Australia are HUGE!!! They are so so so big! I am even scared of them… I think that is saying something. I wanted to take a picture of how big they are but it is hard to tell their actual size. It took us literally about 5 minutes to get these pictures because these buggers are fast! hahaa get it, buggers 😉

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Australian Football League

Time April 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A couple weeks ago IFSA-Bulter scheduled a group event for us to go to the Gold Coast rugby game! This was an experience. I had a preconceived notion of how rugby games were in Australia or in general I guess. I was expecting it to be super rowdy, lots of loud drunk people who were very passionate about their AFL. This preconceived notion was broken at this AFL game. It was less rowdy than a twins game back in Minnesota! People had their bran new born babies there! It was a very family friendly environment. As you can see in the pictures it was not even half full in the stadium. It was a mellow game fan wise, but the players put on a good fight! At first they were ahead, then they got behind and in the last minutes they got ahead again and won the game!!!! I was proud of them as I watched them run around in their short shorts!! :)

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Dear Friends

Time April 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

To all my friends back home who love to watch Indie movies with me, especially Mindy, Anna and Hallie :)

In Little India, Singapore there is a movie theater that only plays Indie movies!!!!! I was so perplexed when I saw this! I knew I had to take a picture. Very random, but it reminded me of all you girls back home whom I watched these movies with! …especially our frenzy freshman year!!! Miss all my Bethel friends back home, see you soon and we will definitely have to watch an Indie movie azap!!!

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Easter Break in THAILAND!!! Part 6

Time April 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Singapore!

We arrived in Singapore around midnight so we caught a taxi to our hostel. Sleeping that night felt so good! I do not know why my night rest in Singapore was so good, but it was sound! We woke up for the complementary breakfast, which was actually a full on buffet with beans, spaghetti, turkey sausage, potato wedges, cereals, juice and toast! This was a feast for me! J They even had Milo cereal which I love anything Milo now! It is like a chocolate flavor with some health benefits! Basically a healthier replacement of hot coco. Our day in Singapore was very relaxed.  Britt and I went to Marina Bay and walked around the huge shopping center with all designer brands. I have never been in such an expensive place in my life! Serious, all designer names you can think of were there!

After some window-shopping we went into the building with the ship on top. Just to go to the top and take pictures it cost 20 bucks a person so we decided that it would be worth it to spend 20 bucks on a drink to go up and enjoy the view with a martini, so that is exactly what we did! It was so cool!!! There was an infinity pool right off the edge of the building/ship overlooking the harbor.  I wanted to go in so bad but it was for the hotel guests only. So Britt and I sipped on our martinis and split some grilled skewers as we were in over our heads with jealousy of the hotel guests.

My roommate back in Australia, Verniece is from Singapore and she recommended that we have some of their carrot cake because it is delicious, and boy was she right! Britt and I split a piece and it was gone in seconds. We had time to kill so we walked around the mall some more and then outside by the bay.

After a bit we hopped back on the tram to Little India, where our hostel was located and shared a firestone pizza at this Italian restaurant that was so cute! As soon as we knew it we were on our Qantas flight back to Australia!

We were sad that our adventure was coming to an end…

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but then we remembered that we were going back to Australia!!!!!!!

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This flight went so well, as all Qantas flights do. After this trip I have realized that I love Qantas airlines. Their service is impeccable and I love having my own screen to choose my personal entertainment. This trip was a good one, full of activity. I feel like we were always doing something or going somewhere. It was good because I can relax all I want here in my new home, the Gold Coast, at the beach. Man does it ever feel good to be home though, time to do laundry and get back on track with school.

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Easter Break in THAILAND!!! Part 5

Time April 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

On our way to Bangkok!

Today we will make our way to Bangkok with the German’s. I am excited for this because we will be traveling in a group of 5!! So relaxing :) Oh, did I mention that everyone we went on our track with spoke amazing English!!!

Now I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight back to Australia. Thinking back to Bangkok… Alright let’s see. We arrived and took a taxi straight away. We were warned about the taxi driver so I definitely said meter, meter, meter!!! Our cab driver was a little much at the moment, he was on his phone the entire time speaking really loud and then tried to charge us an extra 50 baht for being an excellent cab driver, ha I said no! Bangkok has ridiculous traffic jams, that’s probably why most people drive motorbikes! There were motorbikes everywhere, just imagine a sea of motorbikes and your basically in Bangkok!

In the cab…

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Once we arrived at our hostel I was taken back by how nice it was in the middle if this dirty city. It is very modern and the staff was so helpful and nice. That is one thing I learned about myself this trip, helpful, courteous customer service means a lot to me!

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Once we settled in all of us girls went to get some food in the HUGE shopping center, there were actually 4 large malls all connected by a bridge type walkway above the street. There was no walking across the streets there, the streets were so crazy with vehicles it would be way dangerous! The street is empty at this moment, but is not a good interpretation of the business, but shows the walkways that are above ground. These were a pain in one way, to get up there you had to walk up so many stairs!! We joked that this is how they all stay so small!

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After we ate we walked around in a market that was on the 3rd level of one of the malls. This was fun to see what they had and such but I held back for the REAL market shopping the next day. We said goodbye to the German girls as they left on the train to the islands near Bangkok.

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Britt and I decided we wanted to go somewhere nice and fun for dinner. I invited one of the girls in our hostel room if she wanted to go out with us, she had been in there all day! She said yes so she joined us! Her name is Lara and she is from Germany traveling by herself now for 9 months and is only 19!!! This is crazy but she was a n interesting type person so I guess it works for her.

We asked the front desk where they recommended. They steered us to a restaurant and a mango dessert place that looked really close on the map they gave us. Hahahaha I’m laughing now, but trust me we were not laughing then. Being lost in Bangkok is not fun. We could not figure out how the map worked and when we tried to ask for directions nobody spoke English! I can’t blame them but it kinda makes you frustrated when lost in a “dangerous” city and unable to communicate. Anyways after some panic and frustration we found the restaurant! It was full, which was a good sign to us! So we waited a little while and then got in for some delicious chicken wings and an interesting peach salad. Afterwords we went to Mango Kango!!! Most delicious place ever!! All they sell is desserts with mangos! My new favorite fruit! I had mango ice cream with mango and some tasty sauce with it!!! So good! After dessert we decided that were only going to be in Bangkok once so we mind as well go out for drinks now that there was three of us. So we were set on another mission to find the pub we wanted to check out. Well we figured out the map system so we were there in no time! The three of us enjoyed a drink and relaxed :) we even bough some delicious nuts from a man who was selling nuts from a basket! After drinks and nuts we headed back to the hostel and went to bed.

The next morning in Bangkok Britt, Lara and I woke up early and took the tram to the weekend market. This market was huge! There were such a variety of items being sold. From all types of food, including yummy frozen bananas dipped in chocolate with nuts J num to baby clothes and knock off purses. I kind of went a little crazy with my shopping, but everything was so cheap and I wanted to get gifts for family and friends!

After a three and a half hours at the weekend market we had to head back to our hostel to shower and check out. We were able to leave our bags in the hostel until our flight out so we did that and went out for lunch in one of the shopping centers. The shopping centers are so nice and same with the food, so tasty!

We had about 5 hours to kill before heading on the train to the airport so we walked around the mall, got dessert at this really cute dessert restaurant in another one of the malls-so good!

Britt even got a pedicure! I decided to save money or spend it on something else is probably a better way to say it! That is basically all we did in Bangkok, the flight to Singapore went smoothly.

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Easter Break in THAILAND!!! Part 4

Time April 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

As I lay here awake in my bed with a mosquito net around me I can’t wait for the day to begin! Yesterday I watched the locals build our bamboo rafts that we will be traveling on for multiple hours today!!!! Crazy right?!? I think so!! Time to use the squatter, write more tonight!!

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After hard boiled eggs and toast we headed down to the river. Our bamboo rafts were awaiting us! So we hopped on the rafts and began our 4 hour journey down the river on the rafts. There was six people on my raft and 5 people on the other. To steer the boat three people (the guide and two people from the trekking group) used long bamboo sticks to push away from rocks and things as well as push us forward. The current was pretty strong which was very nice on the long journey. For the first couple hours it was really fun and exciting. The next two hours were very hot and tiring because we were in the sun the entire time. We were all about ready to be done with the rafts at this point. Plus our raft kept breaking! So our guide See had to continuously fix it!

Half way through our journey we took a break at a village to use the squatter and such. Here I met 2 guys  (who are also doing the trek with another guide) that graduated a couple years ago from my university, Bethel who still live near me in Hopkins Minnesota!!!! So crazy right!!!! I’m half way around the world and here I am meeting people from basically my home town!! They gave me some tips about Bangkok too which was nice. They told me to make sure taxi drivers put the meter on and if they say they are taking you anywhere else besides your destination get out immediately!!! The taxi drivers like to bring tourists to the temples and shopping centers so they get gas coupons and you have to pay more! Not a good idea!!!

Anyways, a couple hours later we arrived at our final destination. We ate Pad Thai which was not that good, but delicious because we haven’t ate in so long!

Then we hopped back in the open back truck for 2.5 hours back to our hotel that we started at. During this ride back i fell asleep on See’s shoulder!!! Whoops! Everyone was making fun of me later that day, ha it is kinda halarious though! Here’s a sneak photo they took!

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Here is a picture of our driver, me and See! We got to know one another pretty well considering our language barrier!!

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This time Britt and I are in this really really nice room. We are sharing a queen bed, have a bathroom with a tub a dining table and a kitchenette!!!! So big and nice!!! I hopped in the shower so fast and did I ever take my time!! It felt so good to shower in a clean area :)

After showering the girls from Germany and Britt and I met and gave our laundry to the front desk at the hotel. They express washed, dried and folded our clothes for 60 baht a kilo! That’s two dollars a kilo. This is less expensive than what I pay in Australia so I said yes to washing my smelly trek clothes!!!! Well worth it! They smell great!!!

After dropping off our clothing Britt and I got traditional Thai messages for an hour!!! They felt so so so good!!! They use their entire body to work out your tight  muscles. This was seriously the most perfect follow up after the trek! Can’t say enough, it felt so good!

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After our Thai messages we met back up with the ladies from Germany at a pizzeria! We all wanted a little break from Thai food so pizza it was!!! And was it ever delicious thin crust pizza! While having supper we realized that not only are we on the same flight back to Bangkok together, but we are all traveling to the same hostel in Bangkok!!!! How crazy right?!?  Mom, I think your prayers worked cuz were traveling in a group now!! Lol plus, we are meeting up with one of the girls from Norway in Bangkok as well!!! :) meeting new people and becoming travel buddies is the best! The trek was amazing, best thing I’ve ever done and to put on top of it new travel buddies!!! It’s simply AMAZING!!!

After dinner the Germans went back to the hotel while Britt and I went shopping in the night market. This was cool to experience because I learned how to bargain well and that each shop has the same thing more or less as you continue walking. Here I bought a small canvas painting, a swim suit, a Chiang beer tank top, and a pair of funky pants!! It was great fun! We even stopped at a stand on the street that was making crepes! We both got a really cheap Nutella and banana crepe, yummy!!!

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Easter Break in THAILAND!!! Part 3

Time April 16th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Day 2-3 on trek

 

We woke up early from the roosters! We had a great breakfast, fresh scrambled eggs and toast. Then we began our 4 hour trek to our next accommodation. This trek was a trek!!! It was so so hot while going up and down, up and down the mountains! We hiked through dry rice fields and mostly through the forest. We saw cows quite frequently on our way as well.

Britt and Dave- this trek was about 5x harder and hotter than any I did with you, just to put it in perspective!

Finally we arrived at our accommodation!!! This is where I am now, journaling my adventures! This village is much much hotter than the last! I’m dripping sweat. Instantly when we arrived we jumped into the river!! I got a electrocuting sensation on my food from something i stepped on in the river so I was done with the water after a bit!!

Now we are done with trekking for the trip! :) hardest work done! In about 30 minutes the elephants will be arriving!!!!! I am so so excited!!!! Then tomorrow we will be riding on bamboo rafts to end our journey! I am so glad that I did this trip, best 200 dollars I have ever spent!!!

ELEPHANTS!!! I got to ride an elephant!!! This was so so cool I loved it! Britt and I shared an elephant. It was a rocky ride, but so fun! I even got to sit on the elephants neck! Their skin is so tough and their hair is very thick and pointy/scratchy!!! My legs got irritated from their neck hairs :/ I think it’s safe to say that elephants are amazing! Just like everything I have experienced since I have left the United States… Just cuz it’s new and different, nothing against my beloved U.S.

After the elephant rides we came back to the village and a woman and a couple children were selling bracelets, earrings and other accessories. I bought two really cute metal – possibly recycled silver of some sort- bracelets. These were a couple bucks but I thought I would “splurge” and support.

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In the villages the residents sell us cold water, coke and Chiang beer for cheap! It’s great!

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After making my purchases the girls from Norway and I helped See cook dinner! This was so fun I enjoyed it a lot! I got to learn how our food was made and the yummy ingredients! See already prepared the food we just helped cook and season it! So we used coconut milk, chili powder and green curry to season the boiled potatoes, num!!! This was so so good!!! We ate this and cooked green beans with tofu with delicious rice! Num!! Then we also made spring rolls. These are not the type if spring rolls that you would typically think of though. They had the same outside and are fried but the inside is filled with banana!!!!! These are to die for!!!! Love love love them !!!!! Totally bringing this entire meal  home!

After our delicious dinner we hanged out by the campfire and sang songs again. This time one of the local villagers played a little for us!

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See and I wearing our headlamps!

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My night sleep was not full of sleep. It was very cold and the animals are raging at night! Britt and I had to cuddle to keep warm 😉  how cute right!!!

 

Now the people!!!

Britt and I are doing great, bonding more than ever :)

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Everyone else is so friendly :) meeting people from all over the world and backpacking with them is an amazing experience! I don’t even know how to describe or what to say. It’s just a feeling or experience I guess.

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Our guide is great! He is so funny and cooks great food! I think I like him because he is a great hiking guide he takes breaks when needed and takes them for a perfect amount of time!

We don’t converse or “hang out” with the villagers. They more so do their thing as we do ours. The language barrier is one of the major factors in this.

Love eating candy, it’s called beng-beng!!! Num!!!

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Easter Break in THAILAND!!! Part 2

Time April 15th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The next morning our journey began!! We picked up three more people, a girl and boy dating from Germany and another girl from Holland -they met on the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai!  I got the privilege to sit in the front with the driver and our guide! It was an experience, they are both very very nice! Our guide even gave me butter cake! (Packaged of course)

Here we all are in the  truck before we picked up the other three.

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We all hopped in this open backed truck for about an hour to the police station to give them a copy of our passports so if we lose them they have a copy for us to continue our journey. Then we hopped back in for another hour to the market to buy water and anything else needed.

Pictures from the market…there was some type of parade going on so we tried to hop in front for a quick pic!

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Mangos are delicious in Thailand!

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Then got back in and traveled another half hour to the waterfall to swim-so hot here!!! The waterfall was beautiful but kinda small-nice to cool off in and stretch our bodies!

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After swimming we got back in the truck for another 30 minutes and had lunch on the side of the road. This was great food. I love all the fruit!! We had fried rice and fruit. Below are pictures of the place we ate at.

After lunch our guide See brought out a bag of fried bugs. This was so gross!!! I saw one before they were cooked and there were little bugs crawling on the dead, bigger one! EEWWWWWW!!! Anyways he was offering the fried bugs to us, but I denied this opportunity.

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Here is a picture of two of the Germans trying them!

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Then once again got back in the truck for another 30 minutes to the beginning of the trek.

We FINALLY  began hiking for 2.5 hours. The hike was intense but we took breaks and our guide See told us about the jungle on our way.

At the beginning of our hike this is what resided infront of us… hahaaa only for it to become normal!

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See asked if anyone wanted a walking stick, nobody said anything so I asked if he was going to make it and he said yes! So how could I turn down a bamboo walking stick that would be made infront of my eyes with a machette? That’s exactly why I didn’t turn it down! Here I am with my brand new and much needed bamboo walking stick! Don’t forget to check out See in the background hacking away at the bamboo with his machette!!!

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Throughout our trek See would point out and let us try all the edible fruit. Whenever we asked what it tasted like he would say “sour!” It become a running joke with all of us :)

Two sexy ladies 😉

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Taking a much needed break!

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In the picture below – Our guide See grabbed a leaf off of a tree, snapped the stem and started blowing bubbles from it! I was amazed and wanted to do it! All of us were so confused on how he did this… in other words we were unable to blow bubbles from the leaf’s stem.

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A little further on our trek See saw this huge ants nest hanging from the tree. Naturally he took his machette and cut it down and threw it into the pond for the fish to eat! This was very resourceful! Although, the gross part is that some of the ants were on See’s hand so he ate them!!! I was so disgusted!!! I asked what it tasted like… he said sour 😉

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First look at the village as we hiked around the corner!

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That night we arrived at our accommodation and it was surprisingly very nice!!!

The village even had pigs!! They were so cute… just so sad to actually think this big guy is going to bea eaten soon…

We all showered with a bucket and water, very interesting! Brittany and I did it in the dark so we really bonded as one of us had to wear my head lamp while the other showered! I also officially started using squat toilets/squatters. What an experience, especially when going number 2!

After an amazingly delicious dinner we had a campfire and went to sleep. At the campfire we bonded over one of the German girls playing guitar and all singing american songs, the common language was the factor why. I slept so well, it was cold at this accommodation so we  all bundled up with multiple blankets.

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