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.