Location: South Bend, IN, USA
So this diary thing/blog didn't work out as I had hoped. To be honest, if I had kept you up to date you all would have likely committed suicide realizing how pitiful of lives you were all living, and what's worse is you don't even notice it. This thought occurred to me today on my flight home. I was depressed as I left Sydney, Australia-a beautiful city boasting the Sydney Opera House, The Sydney Harbor Bridge and countless beaches each with something unique to offer. I had been fortunate enough to have spent the last 5 months just a short train or bus ride from any of the locations listed above. I had never dreamed of living in a city and taking the train to and from pretty much everywhere, but now it seems like second nature. I have not driven a car in 5 months and I can surely say that it will likely be the longest drought I have without driving until I die or someone takes away my privilege, whichever comes first.
While abroad I traveled Australia making it to Melbourne, Whitsundays, Brisbane, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, and Hunter Valley (Australia's version). We also went to Fiji during a break equivalent to Spring Break in the US. I think that in my time abroad I took as many flights as I had in my entire life prior. Each one of these trips helped me to change into the person I am today, which I can assure you is slightly different than the one that left in February. The mere fact that I was not the slightest bit excited to return home aside from seeing my friends and family along with some food I slightly missed shows that I am no longer the same naive student I once was. I had no intention of ever living in a large city before this journey, and thought that when I graduated I would find a job for a few years and likely go to work for the family business as had almost all of my family. Today I have completely new hopes: I want to be able to travel and see as much of the world as possible while I am still young. One great thing about being in Sydney was that my brother, Ryan was there. He had a lot of insight in this matter particularly and I think I may have picked up on his philosophy. As he said, " travel while you are still young and able to enjoy it. Today people get pushed into jobs and then have kids (earlier and earlier now-a-days) and then are forced to forego their dreams (whether that be to travel or not)." As he said, "nothing is certain and who knows if you will be here tomorrow so you may as well do it while you are young and able to enjoy it still." Having seen the last few years play out within my family has done nothing but prove his thoughts, and I plan on taking them to heart.
Another reason for my change of heart is that I have now seen and traveled with backpackers and it is not something I would want to do when I am older. Sure you can still travel, but not in the same way and you will miss out on a lot of the experience. A case in point is Fiji: had I not gone to Fiji when I did I would likely have not seen the 8 islands and would have hated the living areas and food. Although I was not fond of either even when I was there, it was part of the experience and doing it with a bunch of people my same age made it that much more fun and bonded us closer together. I have kept in touch with some people I met in Fiji and 2 met up with us in Sydney as they continued their backpacking journey...these are experiences I want to live and the sooner the better.
Having said all of that I hope to travel Europe upon graduation and then hopefully Asia. I am sure I will not be able to settle down until both are accomplished. I am rational though-I know I will have to work, but unlike the majority of my peers coming out of college I no longer intend to get sucked into the day-to-day corporate life that so many others out of college pray for. I want to be able to see Europe after graduation and then work until I am discontent and in between jobs try to squeeze in the other trip. Who knows, maybe I'll end up working in one of the countries I travel to...I have already been offered a great job option in Melbourne that I will have to strongly consider in a few months. These experiences are priceless and so many people will live without ever knowing what they missed.
My mom came out to Sydney to visit during my last 2 weeks. I remember sitting down and talking to my brother just a few days before she was expected about the visit about to take place. We talked and began to realize that our own mother likely fit the category of person I am describing-the one that goes without noticing that they are missing out on these experiences. She had a tough childhood and had not been as fortunate as we were thanks in part to her dedication and hard work. That being said she was content where she was as a loving mother and schoolteacher. Until she was married I am almost sure she had not been on a plane or likely even seen one for that matter. The visit was great (it was her second to Australia, the first being when my brother was married) and we loved every second of it. Unfortunately for my mom she may have realized these great opportunities a bit too late. Sure she has seen a lot of the world now having been to Europe, Mexico and Canada, but imagine what she could have done if she had the same opportunity as me at such a young age!
As I began my journey back to the US I thought of all of the people who had made my study abroad experience possible-my parents, grandparents, brothers, sister, uncles and countless others who I owe many thanks to. Without their support and love I could have missed an entire world of possibilities as so many do. When I finally reached my flight to South Bend I couldn't help but feel depressed. I was looking out of the window and it looked dead-nothing was moving-sure it was almost midnight, but in Sydney the lights and action would have been more than visible from my windows view. In front of me were two complete strangers who shared a common school and began discussing various people that they knew (so common in small towns!) and behind me was a kid who was about 8 years old who was oooing and ahhhing at the colorful lights he saw below-this was likely his first flight or at least his first flight at night...if he only knew what he was missing.
I know I will be back to Sydney one day and I cannot wait for our reunion.
Location: Bondi, Australia
Thought I would catch you up on what we have been doing since we got to Bondi:
The first 2 days we settled in and unpacked, which was amazing! Living out of a suitcase was driving me crazy. Also, I have been living on groceries which is saving me a bundle-I was beginning to think I would be on the street for the last 2 months or so, but now I am not as worried. We have been going out a lot in Bondi which has been fun. Last weekend all of my roommates went on a surfing trip and I decided to stay back for the first big weekend in Bondi. I went out to The Eastern, a local bar, on Friday which is about a 2 minute walk from our place so it is quite convenient. Thanks to the program I am in, I was given a discount card which was cool. Since I had no friends for the weekend I went out with Kara (apparently we aren't friends, just ask her) and her roommates from orientation along with a few other girls. It was a fun night.
Saturday was a big day in Sydney because it was the GBLT parade. All the girls had this idea that everyone dressed up and went to the parade so they of corse used this as an excuse to go shopping. I met up with them later that afternoon to go to the parade. They were all dressed like transvestites or something of the sort: painted with flower necklaces, bright neon colors and sparkles everywhere. I was in a black shirt-I was not trying to attract any attention. We eventually got to the parade (after about 3 hours of HARD drinking-I opted to stay sober-again not trying to attract attention) and when we did we literally could not see anything except that the only people that were dressed up were the people in the parade. Lets just say that the girls stood out. Anyway, we ended up coming back to Bondi and I watched the parade on TV which was pretty entertaining in itself.
Sunday morning I wake up to my mom on Skype worried about a Tsunami warning. My friends were all on a surf trip, so I figured there would be no way they would be out late-I was wrong. At about 10:30pm Sunday I had friends again. Apparently they had no idea that there was ever a Tsunami warning and they were surfing the whole day. They were tired from the weekend so we opted to stay in-afterall it was a school night.
Monday I had one class-seemed to be easy enough. Since I didn't have another class until Thursday we ended up going out. We went to a bar in Sydney which was a lot of fun. I woke up Monday and realized that this schedule is amazing for partying and having a good time, but if I was going to do well in school I would have to get into some sort of a routine...I guess I will let you know when I find out what that will be. In the meantime I am going to enjoy the experience!
Location: Bondi, Australia
So we finally moved into our permanent housing-FINALLY! No more living out of a suitcase. The place is nice-basically a really nice hotel room. Most importantly we have air conditioning. Unfortunately me and Josh drew the room with only one closet but we somehow will manage.
We all had an amazing time in Manly, but a change is always nice. To break in the new city we did what we always do:went to the bars. This time we left by our own force so that is always good. Bondi is a lot like Manly but with a bigger city and no beach that is in walking distance (unless you want to take a 45 minute walk-busses take you much faster!). There is a HUGE mall about 2 minutes away so that is nice. We have an amazing view and balcony in our room which is cool. Aside from the move nothing is really new. Bondi definitely seems to be more fit to the student population than Manly was, so we feel a bit more comfortable here-except for the prices-they are still outrageous. A beer was $5 last night which would have been fine had it been a regular size-it was seriously about 6 ounces. Needless to say I did not have very many.
We are about all settled in and unpacked. School starts Monday which is annoying, but fortunately I have only one class that day and then nothing until Thursday! Yeah, I have class 2 times a week.
Guess that is all for now. Feel free to check out the new pics on Facebook. Hope everyone is doing well and remember to Skype often!
Quick update: Yesterday we went to the biggest IMAX theatre in the world to see Avatar. The movie was unreal-I was getting a little sick looking at the HUGE screen, but the movie was good. It was the second time I had seen Avatar and I couldn't help but to notice about 50 (seriously) hidden messages in the movie-which I don't necessarily agree with, but I found quite interesting. Anyway that's all for now.
Location: Sydney, Australia
This week has been rough. We have gone to the beach everyday (it feels like I am on a vacation). Val came in to visit so we decided to book the Harbor Bridge climb. A small fortune later we were on our way up the bridge. I had heard from everyone that this was one of the best things you could do while in Sydney and I have to say I agree. The preparation is unreal: breathalyzer, jumpsuit, accessories-including a flashlight, earpiece, handkerchief and a lanyard for sunglasses. After about a half an hour of getting ready we had to do a practice run to assure we knew how to work the harnesses. The climb was awesome! We went during sunset and (lucky for us) on a beautiful day so the view was great.
On another note, we have been going out a lot and two nights in a row we were shit-housed which the Ausie people don't approve of. The first night Andrew got the boot for walking crooked and we couldn't get into another bar for our lives (we must have looked too intoxicated). The second night was was deja vu-we drank (a lot) and Josh didn't make it out so the 5 of us went out: Val, Me, Andrew, Kara and Kyle and made our way to the bars. Within 10 minutes Kyle had picked up a fat 40+ (possible mom) and Andrew helped take care of her friend. Needless to say, they got the boot soon after and out we went. Since that night we have taken it easy, but that will stop shortly.
That's all for now!
Location: Sydney, Australia
Sorry for the delay in the update, but I have been extremely busy. The last 5 days were spent in orientation in Sydney. We checked into the World Tower in a suite (probably the nicest place I will ever stay). The room overlooked the entire city-it was sick.
Side note: Sydney is EXPENSIVE! You can't get a meal for less than $15. A beer is about $6 (6 pack is about $30) and there is no such thing as shitty alchol-seriously the bottom shelf here is equivelant to a nice drink in the states. Also, when you drink here they expect that you drink in "moderation." We went to a few bars after midnight and were questioned as to how much we had had to drink. The first time we said 2 and got turned down-after some convincing we got in. From that time on we kept it to 1 or less when questioned. Another weird thing-one of the bars had a line-about the size of Sports but it was not moving. Josh went to the front to try to slip the guy some cash and get us in. Instead the guy saw we were Americans (with girls) and let us in immediately with a card for a free drink-apparently they like Americans (or maybe our excessive spending at bars due to our unwillingness to "The Moderation Rule") .
Anyway, we got to go to the blue mountains and went rappelling (think that is spelled right) down like 200 foot mountains. It was cool and scary and Andrew is a bitch for not doing the big one. We were all extremely hungover from the night before so waking up at 7:00 was a bitch but it was worth it. Josh was sick and had to use a rope to go up the ladder because he was a liability-seriously.
We went out a lot, which may explain why I am about broke a week in the trip. I guess it is only money and you only live once. This week we are back in Manly relaxing and getting ready to move to our place in Bondi which should be sweet because about every person we met is staying there.
That's all for now-check out the facebook pics when you get time.
Location: Sydney, Australia
I made it. Don't have time or energy to type a lot so I'll catch you all up later.
Location: Los Angeles, USA
What a day...and it's only 1:00 (in LA)! Last night as I was finishing packing I got a call saying that my flight to Chicago had been canceled. Not yet freaking out I planned on taking the United Limo into Chi-town. 20 minutes later (mind you it's now 11:00PM) I get a call saying my flight to LA had been canceled. NOW I WAS FREAKING OUT! I was suppose to meet my friends in LA and fly out and had to be there! After more than an hour on hold (apparently due to "an unexpectedly high call rate" HAHA) I got a guy to get me on the last flight out in the last seat of the plane to LA. The catch-I had to leave South Bend at 6:00 AM. I arrived safely in Chicago and then to LA. Now I am in LA on a 12 hour layover before my 17 hour flight-LUCKY ME! The weather had been perfect for more than the last month, and the day I am leaving of course, Mother Nature decides to act up.
There is a plus side to this story from hell: I am in a VIP lounge in the airport (of course it cost me $50 even though the excessive layover was completely United's fault-ADVICE: NEVER FLY UNITED! Seems cheaper, but as Anton always said cheap people pay twice and trust me I did! Not to mention checking a 3rd bag would have been $200) Anyway, the lounge is pretty sweet and I am resting for what I know will be a flight from hell if its anything like the last time I flew to Australia.
For the remainder of my time in LA I plan to yell at United in hopes of an upgrade (HAHA) and drink my fair share of "free" lattes and cappuccinos in the lounge. Alcohol will be consumed starting 3 hours prior to expected takeoff and ending after I'm broke or my flight leaves...whichever comes first.
Signing off for now and for the last time in the US (and this shitty weather) for 5 months,