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“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” –Fitzhugh Mullan

 Life Down Under! ~ Australia is PARADISE!!

So- after the 20+ hours of flying. ridiculously long airport lines, and hauling my suitcases around the Sydney airport, I have found myself in PARADISE! And I completely love every second of it! Australia has lived up to and also exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I am really looking forward to the next four months and all of the adventures and enjoyment to come. I can’t believe that I am finally here…

But the journey didn’t begin this well. Saying my goodbyes to my family at the airport was rougher than I expected. I left Harrisburg on this little rickety plane and was just trying to mentally brace myself for the additional two plane rides I was going to have to make. However, on my second flight from Chicago to LA, I sat next to an Australian racecar driver. The guy was awesome! He was so excited that I was going to Australia and he told me that I was going to love it (in addition to telling me his obsession with kettle corn from the US haha). He also led me to the international section of the LA airport (which was a LIFESAVER considering that I got kind of lost in the Chicago airport hahaha). Once in LA, I met up with the other members from the group flight and we were off to Sydney! The flight wasn’t too too bad. The food was decent and I slept most of the time.

Orientation in Sydney was INCREDIBLE!!! IFSA did such an amazing job arranging everything from airport pick-up and accommodation to amazing food and great sight seeing. I completely felt at home and comfortable right away (which I really wasn’t expecting). I was so nervous about leaving my friends and family, but I found that with the busy and fun filled schedules that I was completely distracted from any feelings of homesickness I may have felt. Plus, I was really fortunate to make a lot of awesome friends instantly. Here are some of the highlights from orientation:

Pictures taken on the awesome walking tour of Sydney! The tour was three hours in length but we literally saw EVERYTHING. Sydney is the nicest city I have ever seen! It is clean, quiet, and laid back. I’d go back in a heartbeat! It was a little chilly however (thank god I packed the North Face haha). Australian winter can actually get a bit cold.

Featherdale Wildlife Park- oh my god. It was literally heaven for me- I FINALLY got to meet a koala (and yes they are SO FREAKING ADORABLE!). The zoo is so nice and well kept, plus you can interact with a number of the animals. I was thrilled!

Pictures taken on a hike in the Blue Mountains in Katoomba. The views were BREATHTAKING (seriously the picture doesn’t do it justice). Literally everything from the waterfalls to the palm trees and the rocks to the vast mountains was simply spectacular. Nature at its best!

After our Blue Mountain hike, we went to an aboriginal center where we learned about the aborigines and saw traditional dances, artwork, and even painted our own boomerang. The music was awesome and the people were so friendly and informative.

Later that night we had dinner in Sydney at Pancakes on the Rocks. BEST. PANCAKES. I. HAVE. EVERRRRRR. HAD. (And it’s not just because I am in Australia- they were THAT good!).

The next day we had a free afternoon and me and a bunch of my friends went to Cockatoo Island. Our advisor told us a free art exhibit was going on over there so we checked it out. All I can say is….WOW. I am a HUGE art buff and the island was covered in warehouses FILLED with modern art (the warehouses used to be prison cells/work areas). Literally one of the best displays I have every seen. It was gorgeous!!

That night was our “farewell to Sydney” night. We had a gorgeous dinner cruise on the harbor. The night was bittersweet. Half my closest friends were going to JCU in Townsville and the other half of my closest friends were going to JCU in Cairns. But, the towns are only four hours apart, so some visits will definitely be in order.

Then, the next morning, I packed all my things up in the hostel we were staying in and I boarded another flight- to Cairns! There, many more adventures await me. I was lucky enough to get an apartment with my two closest friends from the trip (thanks to our IFSA advisor for making a last minute phone call haha). I literally can’t wait for all the fun times to come!

But, so far, here is what I’ve learned:

1)   Vegemite is disgusting (but you have to try it anyways because I mean c’mon you’re in Australia).

2)   Kangaroo is actually pretty good. Kind of like steak haha. It’s especially great on pizza!

3)   Tim Tams are AWESOME and would probably make me gain an extensive amount of weight if I ate them as much as I wanted to.

4)   Yes, Australia is different. Ketchup is scarce. Sometimes people have difficulty understanding my American accent. And the whole driving on the opposite side of the road thing still scares the crap out of me. But, you just have to embrace it.

5)   Koalas and wallabies are the cutest animals I have ever met. Like really. They are so friendly and fluffy. Coolest marsupials ever.

6)   Don’t have expectations when you go abroad. Live it up. Be yourself. And, in the end, you’ll find that’s enough to keep you incredibly happy.

 

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” –Fitzhugh Mullan

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2 Responses to ““Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” –Fitzhugh Mullan”

  1. Mary Ann G. Says:

    So very cool – Love the pics! Great to see you arrived with your wits still attached. Guess you’ll have to show those Aussies how to whip up some real ‘home made’ ketchup.

  2. Alysha Alysha Says:

    Thanks! Sorry this took so long I just found out how to respond to comments haha. Yes I did! :) If I knew how hehe.

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