a visa! a visa! HOORAY!

Well, there was nothing quite as relieving and surprising when I decided to check my application tonight!

So two(ish) weeks later and a bundle of money and a trip to canada,

lookout Aus I'm comin' back for ya!

Fingers crossed this girl finds employment while she's there!

A visa round two, Number 462

So I decided that you, my faithful audience, might like to join me in my attempt to head back to Australia to see some cute people that I met the first time around.

Step 1: Visa

So I applied for my work holiday visa online about a week and a half ago through immi.gov.au, I have it memorized and it should probably be my home page at this point.
Well right off the bat, I need to get a chest X-ray.
I thought okay, no big deal.
but wait I have a list of like FIVE doctors that I can go to.
WAIT WAIT the one in pittsburgh wants $420 not covered by my insurance. LOL
Next option, Hamilton Ontario, Good ole Canada
Rise and Shine at 8(ish) am

Paperwork CHECK
passport CHECK
mother CHECK

We are on our way, smooth sailing to the border.
We get there and hit up the duty free to exchange (and part with) some $.
(the duty free is awesome for this btw no extra BS charges)
Smooth sailing across the border to the Dr Office,
when we get there the ladies already knew me because I had only called 24 times.
"Oh no, why are you smiling in your passport picture?"
Uh oh.
Note to self (and note to you) the Australian Government doesn't like it when you smile in your passport picture, but the United States does.
By the time I got a new one, I wasn't smiling.
So off to the X-Ray place with a brief stop to get a passport picture/mugshot.
"Brief" however meant an extra hour and a half finding parking exchanging more money and getting 4 new passport photos.

Right as we were parking the Dr office calls me and never gave me back my passport, so after we get the photos it's back to the Dr.

Once we got that, it was down to the X-Ray place, which again parking was well, parking was just not there. A little smarter this time, I get dropped off and pop in there just before the mid-day rush. Who knew so many people get X-Rays.

20 minutes later and my chest is rayed.

Let's recap

Passport Photos, round one $10
$160, american exchanged to canadian cash
1 hour and 30 minutes each way
Too Smiley in my Passport Photo $15 plus 1 hour and 30 minutes
$4 for a 15 minute parking spot
When your phone switches to roaming so you have no GPS to get home, priceless.

No but really, it was halfway smooth sailing, despite getting the actual appointment with a Canadian Dr being American (this caused a lot of tears) and the passport photo mishap.

Crossing my fingers for good news and a Visa!

Happy 1 Year Anniversary to the best decision of your life Sam!

Happy 1 Year Anniversary of your acceptance to study abroad is grounds for a hallmark card don't you think?

I remember laying in bed when the "ding" from email went off on my phone. "You've been accepted to study abroad at the University of the Sunshine Coast" Woah let that sink in for a minute mixed with every emotion you could think of.

I know everyone says "Study abroad, it will change your life, you will learn so much about yourself...." blah blah blah, But you really will and if you're lucky you will meet the most amazing people and have the time of your life.

I say this all the time, that I could not have asked to meet better people on my journey abroad, and I honestly had no expectations. I was just star struck that I was landing in Australia, a place that I misspelled in a 6th grade project that I beat out another girl to study, a place that has just been a picture on a map for so long.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined meeting my room mates Gene and Shannon, who were so friendly welcoming, fun and awesome. I was so lucky that Shannon offered to drive me to the chemist when I had pink eye the second day I was there.  All my Americans, who were just as excited and ready to travel as I was, made Cairns, Fraser Island, Brisbane, MojoSurf and Melbourne that much better to see in great company. And to my other Australian Friends I had the pleasure of meeting.

So here's to studying abroad, wherever in the world you may choose to go, just do it!

A teacher of mine once told me that if you really want to do something, you'll find the money. You'll get through the paperwork, and looking back it will have been much easier than you stressed about, and the experience you'll gain will be priceless. I would do it ten times over again!

Literally a room full of balloons (and the best friends ever) (#14)

So I decided to save myself some trouble and leave my room keys with my lovely roomy Gene while I went on a surf trip for the weekend. Those babies cost $300 to replace and I wasn't trying to spend $300 on keys (sorry Julie). ANYWAYS it ended up being the best/worst decision I had made thus far into Australia. 

I came home Sunday night, sunburnt, board rashed up (if you ever go surfing for the love of God wear a wetsuit, you look as lame as you feel but rug burns up and down your thighs and stomach are NOT fun. Oh and the bus driver left my bag with my passport in it in Byron Bay, when a few girls got off the bus to stay the night, about 4 hours away. THANK GOD Haley and Bille knew the bag was mine or I would have been in a world of trouble. Also thank heavens for my gal Julie for gooning me up on the ride home so that I would stop crying because the bus driver wouldn't turn around, and Olivia for letting me sit on her lap and cry.

SO we got back to school and my lovely little Shannon met me outside the gate (since I didnt have to wait for a bag, and didn't have keys) and the first thing she said was "Gene's over at Adams, I'll call him now" and I thought that was strange because why would Gene care if I was home but I didn't say anything and was just so happy to see my roomies. I had un-natural separation anxiety every time I left to travel, because they didn't come with me.

Shannon opens my door and turns on the light and there is Gene sitting on my bed, and Adam on my floor, screaming at me? I think I don't know I was laughing, and the night is a little fuzzy. I know that Adam had texted me while I was on the bus back, asking when we'd be home, which I thought was a nice gesture, but little did I know his intentions. (FYI anytime Adam asks when you'll be home, its because he's planning something and doesn't want to get caught.) 

ANYWAYS, it was the funnest thing to come home to after a rough weekend, but I had to pop and clean up all the balloons by the next day because they were coming to spray for pests. Rachel, Shannon, Adam, Arielle and Gene spent 3 hours blowing up 300 balloons for me, so let me tell you that clean up must have sounded like a gun show to the people downstairs. I kept a few balloons around and Oh most of my room was covered in decorative post-its. Thanks Guys!

Study Abroad Tips:

-Don't leave your keys with your roommate. Just Kidding, but only if you trust them.
-Double check before you go on trip through a travel agent, ask, ask ask! This will come in a later post when I write about the surf trip, but there is ALOT I had wish I would've known, that would've definitely turned me off from going.

A sweet little space of my own (#13)

My Bed!

I have to say I was extremely glad to have a bed and bathroom of my own after flying for 14 hours. I walked into my apartment and met my first roommate who was blasting his swedish reggae music in the kitchen. It was definitely a whirrrrrl wind, my head was in a cloud.

I was told I couldn't get my keys for a bit because there were so many people moving in it would just be better to wait a second. Within a few minutes I met my lovely roomy Shannon who was on crutches, she was a riot. Very friendly and welcoming but I asked her about our other roommates she said "In that one there's a boy called Stevie and over there is a boy called Gene" It was strange to hear her say that since we would say "named."

At one point I decided I needed a shower, but I cant even tell you I had NO idea what to do with myself. It was one of those moments where you walk around with a purpose and you can't remember what it is. I finally got to shower and with a shower the size of a tall tuna can, I was still happy to be there!

I heard keys jingle and decided to introduce myself to my final roommate. I walked toward the door and it wasn't long before we made eye contact, since our rooms where 5 feet from each other. I said hello and started asking him questions because little did he know we were going to be BEST FRIENDS whether he liked it or not because we were going to be living together for the next 5 months. Little did I know, I would get way more than I bargained for ;)

Rachel and Arielle came over to help me make my bed and the group of us decided to start exploring the buses and what was around us. Arielle had met one of her roomates (thumbs up) and Rachel didnt meet either of hers for a few days and she was a little nervous before we even got there. We were very excited to drive past the beach on the way to the plaza (at least I was) because I don't have an ocean close to me! We met up with a 12 year old American/Australian named Sam and he spent the day showing us around, so we all picked up stuff from Target that we needed.

We were all trying to desperately stay awake to avoid jet lag. Well we succeeded but I was up at 5am wide awake the next day anyway with Pink Eye! WTH only me. Luckily my wonderful roomy Shan drove me to the "chemist" (pharmacy) on a sunday and I was able to get over the counter eye drops. The first night my little Tennessee Honey slept over so she didnt have to sleep in an empty apartment. I was really happy to have her there!

This view

and check out this view from my apartment balcony. I was so lucky, to have called this my home for five months! I miss it so much!

Study Abroad Tips:

-I brought all my stuff from home like my bedding and my toiletries and I am so glad I did. It was expensive there and it made it feel more homey. They had most of the brands that I used but some of my friends had trouble finding the stuff they liked. (i.e. facewash, lady products, ect...)
-My sweet little wall decal and bedding was all from Target in America, and my pillows were courtesy of Shannons Aunt, Target Australia, Woolworths Australia and Qantas, yes everyone made fun of me for stealing the little airplane pillow but I couldnt resist! It matched my bedding perfectly!!

I thought Vegemite was chocolate but it's definitely not.... (#12)

We have all heard of Vegemite. Some of us have learned about it from Mary-Kate and Ashley movies and some of us have grown up eating it. Either way it is an Popular Australian "goop" is really all I can come up with. It looks like it would be thick chocolate, but my friend, do not mistake it for chocolate.

They eat it plain,
They eat it on toast,
They eat it on toast with butter.
They put it in stew,
They eat it on toast and butter with tea,

I have not tried any of these but putting it in stew makes the most sense to me because it is, brace yourselves, 8% sodium. 8%!

As you can see, Rachel and myself enjoyed our first, and last, encounter with it. (Thanks to Julie and Tom, thanks Tom!)

Study Abroad Tips:

-Try the food that is popular in the culture where you are! Im so glad that i had the opportunity to try Vegemite, and Kangaroo Burgers! It sounds awful because we think of cute adorable, fluffy jumpys, but they are much like our deer in New York. Go outside the box and try something! 

"O" Week aka orientation week, aka week zero, aka get to know your new mates, aka theme party week (#11)



I can't believe I don't have more pictures from O-week but I don't. What you're missing is Toga Night, which is a college tradition in which we all tried to wrap ourselves in bed sheets and try to dance in them. It is really quite comical and involves safety pins for double the added humor.

We were supposed to have a welcome BBQ, traditional Australian on the "Barbi," but unfortunately it was rained out, like most of our first few months in Aus, so sad.

Continuing on with O-week we had a Fluro theme night and a Stoplight party, this was so much fun because it was my first taste of living at school, amongst my peers and lets say I think one semester was plenty for me, I could just not keep up, must be my old age.

Study Abroad Tips:

-Def set aside some extra cash for few theme purchases you might need to make if you're participating in the first weeks theme parties, or parties throughout the semester. You definitely get more creative and  thrifty throughout the semester as you get to know people, and can swap things. I ended up purchasing a skirt for stoplight, I used my own bed sheet for toga night, which doubled as a beach blanket, because I never use my top bed sheet, a top for fluro night and bunny ears for easter theme!

Sharing my bed with a Gecko (#10)

Well this was new....certainly a fan of lizards but not in my bed. But how could you say no to this little guy! They were all over our apartment and the walls of the buildings and it was just my favorite part! My room mate even found eggs in his drawer. They were so squirmy and loud (surprisingly they squeal and I never knew what that one noise was.)

They also absolutely lose their tails when they are scared, one was lost on our kitchen floor and my friend Julie found one on her bathroom floor, still squirming NO thanks!

Crickey! Pt 2 (#9)

Running on about 4 hours of sleep (thank you O-Week) bright and early Friday morning we caught a bus to the Australia Zoo aka the Steve Irwin Zoo about a half an hour away. It was definitely worth it!

Dougie-ing kangaroos,


and this little Tennessee honey,


Sleepy koalas,

We were also all stoked that there was free wifi so naturally we connected to the World Wide Web and shared our excitement!

Study Abroad Tips:

-it was $5 for a student guild membership and it got us discounts to a lot of places and free food on Wednesdays, so check around campus we had a lot of free student organizations that were more than helpful to International students 

There's wild what on campus?! (#8)


Needless to say it was one of the coolest perks of living in Australia because in buffalo there's only wild geese on campus and they're just not as fun!

It never got old to see these little buddy's on campus and even more amazing to see the joeys!

At the Australia Zoo we were able to hang around and pet them!

Study abroad tips:

-Super important to know what animals are around where you're living if you're going to a place like Australia, luckily we had our encyclopedia Adam and he informed us of what to beware of. Most of the time if you don't bother it, it won't bother you, except crocodiles they will bother you

A 23rd birthday down under (#7)

My pretty roomie ^!

Let me wear her dress!

My birthday fell on the 10th day I was living in Australia. I was nervous but alright because I never really liked my birthday anyways.

My roomie stayed up with me until midnight, and we skyped my sister, even though it wasn't my birthday yet in America! 

When I woke up I had a card on my door from him, he's very sentimental. It was only my second day of school so I had a long day ahead of me, until I went to class my roomies hung out with me all morning and both of them fell asleep on my bed (so precious).

I went to class dressed in a rain coat with a giant umbrella, wondering why I didn't take a mental health day on day 2 hmm. So I went to class until 8 and missed my birthday BBQ and kangaroo burgers, however my lovely little roomie brought a big party to my apartment! My lovely little New York lady and Tennessee bottom b made me a cake with sparklers and candles! I was so overwhelmed with all of these strangers giving me one of the best birthdays I've ever had. I don't know if I ever thanked you guys enough!

Shannon got the security guard to keep the pool open later and we went for a dip. 

So thankful for the wonderful group of people I got to celebrate with. Couldn't have even asked for better company. 

Thank goodness I had Wednesdays off :)

Upside down under on the left side of the road (#6)

Sitting in the passenger seat which would normally be the drivers seat totally blew my mind for the first, okay for all 5 months I was in Australia, and when my mom picked me up from the airport it was just as wacky that I was again a passenger on the drivers side.

I drove a few times while I was there (McDonald's hangover run for my roomie and on the largest sand island in the world) not sure if this is legal (shh) but I most just tried to follow the cars in front of me especially when it came to making a left turn like a right turn and a right one like a left (?) also reminding myself that the driver side should stay close to the line in the middle of the road and voila! I managed to go against my natural instinct of 5 years and successfully maneuver a vehicle!

Study abroad tips:

-check before you drive, my French friend needed to get his international license because his was in French (duh) not English

-renting a car on an excursion is so much cheaper than a bus/guided tour. We were fortunate enough that our friend knew the roads and we saved a bundle on our trip to Fraser island, so also make sure you know where you're headed

Maaake new friends (#5)

I probably couldn't have asked to meet better people on my adventure abroad. In fact I know I couldn't have.

These three little ladies, (Arielle from Long Island, Rachel from Tennessee and Julie from Pittsburgh) got me through my first month (and the remaining 4) with flying colors. Thank god we met on the plane, Julie and I fell in love in the airport, Rachel had the pleasure of being my seat mate on the 14 hour journey and Arielle got to sit next to me on the shuttle ride from the airport to our apartments! Needless to say my first day in Australia would have been so much more overwhelming had I not had Rachel and Arielle to help me make my bed for the first time and everyone else to explore the buses and plaza with and Rachel to invade my bed on the first night because her apartment was empty!

Above we're all dressed in Green for the first Saturday stoplight party. Ironically most of us would be wearing red now and I think this is also the only decent picture of all four of us the whole semester and one of my favorites. 

Without these ladies I don't know WHAT I would have done being so far from home and can't thank my lucky stars enough for send us all to USC in February!

Study Abroad Tips:

-A group flight is a great way to meet people who you can travel with during the time you're abroad and also new places to visit when you guys head home :) (including but not limited to Tennessee, Mississippi, Michigan, Minnesota, Long Island, NYC and Pittsburgh)

CRIKEY! (#4)

My first Friday in Australia was spent running on 3 hours of sleep around the Australia Zoo! Needless to say my excitement and amazement, much like that of a 5 year old even though I am 23, kept me going until 5pm. It was a half hour bus ride to the zoo from school in which Julie and I attempted to nap (this girl can actually sleep anywhere so envious of this gift.) 

Most of us were thrilled that the zoo had free wifi! So we were all up on that and tackled the zoo. Also known as the Steve Irwin zoo it had tons of animals- birds, crocs (obviously) kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, elephants, ect. It was the first place you could actually go and pet the kangaroos! Picture 5 year olds with free roam of the candy store and you have our group in the kangaroo pen. They were so sweet and gentle until they smacked you (Julie) with their tails.

Study abroad tips:

-Our school had a student organization called the student guild. It was only $5 to join and that's where we got our discounted tickets to the zoo with transportation. There was also free food and a place to hangout, and a place to buy and sell used textbooks, so helpful!

Sunset obsession (#3)

I was incredibly lucky with the view from my apartment. I was right next door to the pool and a gorgeous view of the lake and my campus. Not to mention 5 months worth of gorgeous sunsets! It's safe to say I was addicted to capturing them and asking people to pinch me is this real!

Study abroad tips:

-Try and contact someone about the weather where you are going 9/10 it's a lot colder than you plan! Which isn't a big deal if you leave room for buying new sweatshirts and jackets and such, but if you're on a tight budget make sure you leave room for a few jackets and sweaters

I come from a land down undah (#2)

Well here we are....14 hours later and we've finally landed. It was very cool to watch the flight path the entire time in and out of sleep (and a few bottles of wine with my seat mate and new bestie Jamie) I was able to watch when our plane crossed the equator and international dateline. When we landed we waited FOREVER (or what felt like forever) on the ground to taxi to our gate.

We collected our lives for 5 months and headed through customs (so excited my first stamp on my visa) we headed to our apartment complexes.

This little sweet peach, Rachel, was so excited to be on land in Australia! It was a rough first day with everyone fighting the urge to sleep until night time in order to avoid jetlag. We managed to stay up until tenish by trying to learn the buses to take us to the Sunshine Coast plaza in order to feed/cloth/entertain ourselves.

Lucky me, woke up at 5am the next morning with pink eye! So thankful my room mate Shannon took me to the grocery store and pharmacy where I could buy eye drops over the counter! Problem solved!

Study abroad tips:

-know what your health insurance covers! We had a bulk billing doctor where it was pretty easy and cheap to get appointments and whatever medicine we needed for cheap, which was a huge relief

-if you're landing early try to stay up until a normal sleep time so you can get on a pattern right away or else jet lag is pesky and lingers for a while

Australia post 1 (way overdue)

                                         HELLO NEW YORK

I have been back home for a little over three weeks now and clearly behind on my blogging. I type this to you on my phone because well my Big Mac has been sent to Mac daddy heaven in the sky.

Okay so maybe it didn't exactly go down like that but it may as well have.

So I kept up with most other of my social networks while I was away and in order to make the time pass quicker for my return to Aus, I have decided to post a picture a day from my Instagram with a little story behind it. So let me start with this one:

Flashback February 12th 2013, I didn't sleep much through the night knowing I was waking up in my own bed for the last time in five months. Around five am it was time to wake up and go, with sharp nerve pains in my stomach I got out of bed and looking around my room for the last time brought my life for five months in suitcases down the stairs. (Not easy to pack that stuff up into TWO suitcases.)

A few photos from my few days in LA:


Fast forward- 
February 14, 2013 11pm LAX international terminal:
Saying goodbye to my mom was the most exciting/nerve-wracking/exhilarating thing.

A million and one thoughts running through my blank mind and excitement streaming  through every part of my body. This was the best and worst decision I had made in all of my 22 years of living.

It was all a cloud of people at the Gate and so glad I had chosen to take a group flight that was arranged for students studying at University of the Sunshine Coast and within 5 minutes I had made a few friends. (Study abroad tip: take the group flight if it is offered! I met an amazing group of Americans who right away calmed my nerves and were awesome the travel with!)

Boarding the 14 hour flight was surprisingly calm and exciting, seeing as how I thought I could never make it sitting 14 hours in a row but Qantas was beyond amazing and I was even able to see when I was crossing the international dateline and equator!

We took off at midnight in LA (friday) which landed us in Brisbane around 6am 

Study abroad tips:

-I brought all my bed sheets and toiletries from home and I'm glad I did. It was a little piece of home that helped with home sickness and it was nice having familiar brands. Things were also more expensive in Australia so I didn't need to spend money on toothpaste for the entire time I was there (extra spending cash)

-Everything that could leak in ziplock bags!

-If you do decide to buy those things abroad search around for the cheapest places

-if you're open to your surroundings and meeting new people and go with the flow attitude you will undoubtedly have the time of your life so don't be nervous!

-Ask, ask, ask! People are more friendly than we give them credit for and the best way to find out about your new surroundings is by the people who know them! Room mates, people on the bus, employees at stores, ect.