Friday, April 21, 2017

The Island Life

Happy Friday (or Saturday for my fellow Aussies)!  I hope everyone's had a good start to their weekend.  For today's blog post, I'm reflecting over the wonderful four days I got to spend on Australia's east coast in Townsville and Magnetic Island.

On the first day, I arrived at the Townsville Airport, then hopped on a ferry to get to Magnetic Island.  The island was beautiful with numerous beaches.  I also was quite impressed with the hostel.  Being established right along the shore, the hostel had a very beachy-vibe to it, and the bar had events every night, making it quite easy to meet people.  It was very backpacker-friendly, so I was able to make friends from all over the world- including the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and even someone from Florida.

On the first full day spent on the Island, I went to an area called Horseshoe Bay.  It was an adorable little town located along the beach with numerous activities, stores, and cafes.  I really enjoyed a place called Cafe Nourish that made delicious acai bowls and coconut lattes.  Also near the beach is the Bungalow Bay Koala Village- one of my favorite parts about the island.  Not only did I get to hang out with some adorable koalas, but I also got to hold crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and turtles.  After that afternoon, I grew an immense obsession for Australian reptiles.  After the tour, I even had the opportunity to help feed a swarm of birds who literally flew all over me.

The following day was spent at another small beach in Arcadia.  It's definitely less populated and more remote than Horseshoe Bay, but I really enjoyed that aspect of it.  It made it very easy to just relax and lay under the sun.  The area also has many enormous rock deposits, making it a perfect spot to view the ocean and the rest of the island.  

The next day, I caught a ferry back to Townsville, where I spent the morning roaming around the town.  I explored the harbor area and stopped by the Anzac Memorial Park.  In Australia, Anzac (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) Day is a very important holiday that commemorates Australia's first military action during the First World War.  Later, I settled into the nicest hostel during the duration of my trip.  The Townsville YHA looked like a 4-star hotel, with extremely clean facilities, a cafe and restaurant downstairs, and a roof-top pool and bar area.  During the night, some UK friends that I had previously met in Magnetic Island joined Nila and me for a night out at the Mad Cow- a pub notorious in Townsville for good drinks and live music.

During my trip, I also received some exciting news that I was selected as one of the Purdue International Agriculture Ambassadors for this coming school year!  I can't wait to help organize activities with Purdue Ag's future exchange students, in addition to speaking to university classes to promote Purdue Ag Study Abroad.  I've definitely gained so much during the course of my international exchange, and I can't wait to share my memories and experiences with other students. 😃

Next blog stop: Adelaide and the beginning of my 6-day tour through Australia's outback!



Wednesday, April 19, 2017


G'day!  As I begin reflecting on my mid-semester break endeavors, I have decided to start my story-telling with my 4 days spent in the city.  Sydney was probably one of my favorite places that I visited because it is full of life and so many people.

The first morning of my two-week trip met me with a 6-hour drive to Sydney (I wasn't the driver, of course- Aussies drive on the left side of the road).  We had to leave quite early due to the Cyclone Betty bringing bad weather to Australia's east coast.  When I arrived, I got settled into my first hostel- Base Sydney- which was quite a new experience for me.  Overall, I really enjoyed staying in hostels throughout my trip because they allowed me to meet so many unique individuals from across the world who were traveling or working.

During my first full day, I was able to walk all along Bondi beach and spend some time under the sun.  Its water, clean sands, and nearby buildings have to make it one of the prettiest beaches I've ever been to.  The area is full of numerous hole-in-the-wall restaurants and pubs.  I fell in love with their lattes and acai-bowls.

Another thing I really enjoyed about Sydney was how many world-renowned restaurants are scattered in the city.  One afternoon, I went to a place where they make gelato literally in the shape of a flower.  It was almost too pretty to eat, but of course, I couldn't help myself.  While in Sydney, I also tried sushi for the first time (shocking, right?) at a sushi train restaurant where sushi is makes laps around the tables on a belt, making it a perfect place for a quick eat.

Of course, I couldn't go to Sydney without also spending time admiring the Opera House and the bridge.  The opera house was absolutely breathtaking.  While I didn't go inside on this trip, I'm really looking forward to going back to Sydney in a few weeks to see The Wombats play at the venue.  The bridge was also an incredible sight to see.  I was able to take these photos from a ferry that took me to Manly later that day.

My favorite spot in Sydney to visit was Darling Harbor.  It was very close to the hostel, making it quite easy to take walks to at night. It is so beautiful at night when everything it lit up, and there are numerous cute shops and cafes along the wharf.  This part of the city definitely made it hard to say goodbye, but I was able to fall in love with other parts of Australia during my trip as well.  Keep your eyes out for my next blog post where I'll recap my time spent on Magnetic Island!



Monday, April 17, 2017

Australia Easter

Happy belated Easter to my US friends and fellow Aussies! I hope everyone's holiday has been splendid!  It's definitely been awhile since I've posted, but for a very good reason.  The past two weeks, I have been on my mid-trimester break and have taken an amazing journey throughout different parts of Australia.  Don't worry- I will disclose all details, photos, and stories throughout the next couple weeks of my adventure, but in honor of the holiday, I would like to dedicate this blog post to a widely-celebrated holiday in Australia- Easter!

Australia's major religion is Christianity, with roughly 60% of its people practicing it.  Because of this, Aussies take Easter quite seriously.  For instance, Good Friday and Easter Monday are also recognized as public holidays, and many companies close on these days.  Since I go to St. Albert's College- a Catholic based residence- we, too, have partaken in festivities.  I was able to experience my first Catholic mass during Ash Wednesday, as St. Albert's College put on its own service.  It was really great seeing the college come together in support of its core values and beliefs.

Something Aussies and English people do around Easter time is make and serve "hot-cross" buns.  They're sort of like rolls made with cinnamon, fruit, or chocolate chips, with a cross on the top, in regards to the crucifixion of Christ.  I completely fell in love with these treats and was dubbed the "Miss Hot Cross Bun" by my fellow tour-goers for my obsession.

Since I have been traveling during the holiday, I got to experience Easter in a totally different way.  My Groovy Grape tour woke up around 6 am to drink a cup of coffee and admire the beautiful sunrise at our campsite in Yulara.  Our tour guide made us a wonderful Easter breakfast of fruit and hot cross buns (shout out to Clancy!)  We then proceeded to take a 5 hour bus ride and had to stop along the way to play with some adorable Thorny Devil lizards.  Alice Springs was our final destination where we settled into our hostel and went out for bevvies and a nice dinner in the town center.  It was quite a great way to finish off the break.

For now, I am extremely exhausted and am trying to be diligent in getting assignments finished for the last 4 weeks of classes- I can't believe my time here has gone by so fast!  For those of you who have not been able to contact me via cell phone, I should have my American SIM card back in my phone soon.  Stay tuned the rest of this week for more stories about my mid-semester trip!