Australia bound!

my semester abroad…

Thanksgiving in June?! Only in Australia

June20

Friday, June 18th, was our last night as a full group. Today, my friend Suzanne left for the States Saturday because she has an internship in San Fransico starting Monday! As a final Who-Rah we all made a huge Thanksgiving dinner! The boys were in charge of the Chicken, because its impossible to find a turkey here, and then the rest of us all brought a different dish, pot luck style! I could not believe how well we pulled it off! The boys put a few tables together and a bunch of random chairs, including a few outdoor porch chairs, and we all sat and shared one last meal together. It was so special…one of our friends said a touching prayer before we ate, and then afterwards, we went around and said our favorite thing about everyone and our favorite memory…it sounds extrememly corny, and as much as the boys complained about not wanting to do it, it ended up being the most amazing moment. Everyone spoke so highly of everyone, and it was really cool to hear what people had to say about me. After we had gone around and talked about everyone and shared our favorite memories we looked at the clock and it was 2am! Little did we know we had been sitting at the table for 4 hours laughing, crying, and just reminising on the past 5 months! I truly have the best group of friends here..they have helped me grow and become a better person, and for that I can never say thank you enough. Each person on this trip has touched me and inspired me to be a better person. I have truly been blessed.

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Horse Races and Sandboarding!

June15

I know, can you believe it?? 2 posts in one week! I am on a roll! 🙂

So this weekend was our last weekend as a complete group since one of my friends, Suzanne, leaves Saturday! What I love about this group is that if they want to do something, theyll do it! No holding back because youre only in Australia once!

Saturday we all got dressed up and went to the Brisbane Horse Races!! Even though we were completely underdressed in our sundresses and sandals, it was still so much fun! We sipped on champaigne, got our makeup “touched up” (they put more make up on me than I evverrr put on my face normally), got mini manicures (yes, at the races!), and watched all the fancy ladies walk around it their overpriced boutique dresses and gigantic hats/ head pieces. I felt like I was in the 1920’s, it was great! You should have seen the size of these things the ladies wore on their heads..all different shapes and colors, all trying to out do each other. We watched the races and of course bet on a few horses! Unlike most people there with their 20 and 50 dollar bills, we bet our 1 piece coins haha! Unfortunately, the horse I bet on didnt even place, but it was still so fun to cheer them on!

Sunday we all packed up early and headed to the train station to go to North Stradebrook Island, an island right off the coast of Brisbane! We took a ferry over there that was so relaxing because the weather this weekend was perfect, so the sun warmed us and the sailed to the island. Once we got to “Straddy” we were planning on taking a few walks and checking out the town but we ended up finding this amazing lookout right off of the town that looked over an ocean full of dolphins! We watched them for a good half hour and then ended up somehow all laying down together, resting in the sunshine. I dont remember what we exactly talked about but I know for the next 2 hours we laughed a lot and told stories/memories of our past 5 months together..boy does time fly!! At 2 we headed off to go sandboarding!!! The company we went through drove us up to these sanddunes, gave us some sandboards, which look just like snowboards, and said “have at it!”. Of course no safetly instructions or cautions in Australia haha! For then next few hours we found every possible way to fly down the sanddunes; forwards, backwards, on our stomachs, with a partner,…we even attempted to connect 7 boards together and all sit on them in a line and go down! Needless to say we failed, but it was hilarious watching us attempt..everyone got a kick out of watching us organize the world record sandboard haha! We ended up splitting into two groups and going down with 5 people and then 6 people. I was in the 6 person group and by the time we finallllllyyy ended up moving down the dune, I was in the middle of the 2 boards, not sitting on either, with sand just filling up my shorts!! haha! We all cracked up the entire way down because my roommate Allie was on the front barely holding on, I was in the middle getting LOADED with sand, and the boys were in the back trying to pick me up and hold me over a board!! At the bottom we crashed, rolled all over each other, and layed there for a few good minutes laughing our heads off…Success?? I think so!

Ok my computer is quickly dying and I stupidly forgot to bring my battery to campus! See you all in 9 days!!

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Kat visits the land of the Aussies!

June13

On June 1st Kat arrived to Brisbane for one of my favooriittee times ever! It was so special to have one of my best friends here in Australia! And what better place for us to visit while she was here than Cairns, the city closest to the Great Barrier Reef!!

The first 4 days that she was here were spent around Brisbane, showing her the ins and outs of this beautiful city! The first night she was here we went up to Mt. Coo-tha, which overlooks the entire city! It was so incredible to see the millions of city lights! I also was able to get her to the UQ campus to show her around and get a drink with my friends at the campus bar…I know, a bar a campus?! Only in Australia.

Thursday and Friday were spent around the city, eating lots of delicious food and shopping! Kat is one of those friends you could do absolutely nothing with and still have a great time and laugh your head off. It was so fun to just hang out and catch up on all that we had missed in the past 4 months…time flies, yet I still felt like we could have sat and talked for the entire trip and still not covered everything!

Early Saturday morning we were off to Cairns to get back into the sunshine and warm weather! Although its still only in the 60s and 70s here in Brisbane, I got a little spoiled earlier this semester and now this is COLD to me! haha! Anways, Saturday we explored the city a little, went to a few markets, and got a delicious breakfast at a cute little shop. Since there is no actual beach in Cairns we decided it would be a good idea to lay out in the grass for an hour..So from 11-12 we layed out and baked our way to lobster red! When we got back to the hotel we looked in the mirror and both started histarically laughing because in that little time we got roasted! Note to self: never underestimate the Aussie sun..NEVER. Anyways, we ended that day with somehow receiving a free two headed pineapple from some guy at a market because he didnt want it (poor little pineapple)…As you will notice from this trip, we received a lot of free things this trip..so bizarre, but so lucky!:)

Sunday was literally our Sun day. We woke up early and headed out to the GBR on a giant boat! We spent the afternoon snorkeling on different reefs and sunbathing on top of the boat..could life really get any better? We saw sooo many different kinds of coral and fish..we even saw a sting ray!! The GBR is amazing..its gigantic..and holds so many different kinds of life, it was truly remarkable. The water is crystal clear as you swim up to these huge coral mounds just covered with all sorts of fish! It really makes to step back and think about how small we really are, so how beautiful our world really is. After a long day out on the boat, we of course ended the day with some Aussie style fish and chips from a local pub in town:)

Monday we were up and at em again, taking the worldest largest skyrail up the mountains to a small town named Kuranda. Cairns is so unique in that there are mountains so close to the ocean. When you think of a beach town, most people think of a flat area, but Cairns has huge mountains right beyond the main city! How much more perfect can it get with beach annddd mountains all in the same town?! Anyways, this skyrail is 7.2 k and stretchs over the rainforest.  Once we reached Kuranda we checked out their well known markets. Kuranda is such a cute little hippie town with tons of markets everyday and little bakery, coffee shops everywhere. It was very touristy, yet still simple and not overly commercialized. On our way back to the skyrail we rememebered these delicious macademia nut brownies we saw in a little shop on our way up to the town…so being our usual selves, we stopped by to see how much they were. Now let me tell you, these were not the normal puny, little brownies you usually get in Australia, these were American size, fudgey, think brownies! Although they looked unbelieveable, once we found out that they were $4 dollars each, we sadly decided to pass and sit outside while we killed time before our skyrail back down. After about 10 minutes of sitting, the man working brought out a warmed brownie, cut in half, with whipped cream and raspberry sauce!!!  And said, “Its on me ladies, enjoy.” Ok, I know you all are probably thinking this guy was trying to hit on us or was being creepy, but in Australia, people are genuinely nice. Its insane how trustworthy and helpful people are here.. Well the brownie was incredddiblleee and tasted a little like heaven:) That night we had a splurge dinner at a restuarant on the main street. We got a nice glass of wine (we had to! we are only drinking age here!), ate great salads, and split brushetta..mm mmm mmm! After we finished, the man who had sat us, who was very friendly, handed us a business card with “x2 coffee’s from Justin” written on it..He said just come back another time and he would treat us to 2 coffees! That worked out perfectly because the next morning we were getting up extremely early for our waterfall tour and needed a coffee as a pick-me-up!

Ok, so Tuesday, once again, we were up early getting our free coffee and catching our bus for our Waterfall tour!  This day was sooo much fun and not what we expected at all! Our tourguide was hilarious and took us to all these random podunk towns outside of Cairns. He would tell us funny jokes about the town or act like it was this historical, famous town, when really it known for nothing! haha! It was actually really fun because I know otherwise we would have driven by all these cute little towns and I would have wanted to stop or check them out, but mosttt tours would only go to the most popular places…not this one!! Our guide knew a lot of aboriginal stoires too so we learned a lot about the culture and loca myths. Other than the towns we stopped at lots of beautiful waterfalls where we got to get in and swim or slide down them! At the Milla Milla falls, we actually swam underneath the gigantic waterfall, so we were sitting behind it..what an icredible view and experience that was! O the best part of the day was our first stop where we saw a beautiful river and then met our guide back at the camping grounds where he made us brekky (breakfast)! Mmmm, eggs and bacon on white bread:)

That night we went out to The Woolshed, which is a local bar where all the backpackers go. It was really fun to meet tons of people from all over the world that were traveling and doing the same trips as us!

Wednesday was the day we left so after a much needed long, lazy morning, we went to this cute little brekkyshop that was run by this little old lady. She cooked us eggs, bacon, and toast that was unnnbelievably good! So greasy and scrumpious, just how breakfast should be:) O and to add to the free-bies, Kat had ordered a long black (coffee) when we got there but her coffee machine had broken and she was so upset about it…as we were eating she came outside so excited carrying a long black for Kat!!

Thursday we went to the Steve Irwin Australia Zoo!! I have been wanting to go to that all semester and figured it was perfect timing to go while Kat was here! That way I could feel like a true Aussie, and she could play with some kangaroos and koalas before she leaves! Even though it was chilly while we were there it was still soooo fun to see all the animals and watch the wildlife show! We also got to tour the largest animal hospital in the southern hemisphere where we saw sick little koalas that were laying in little baby beds..they were the cutest thing I have ever seen! That evening after we got back, we had a cookout with the whole gang for Kat’s last night in Brissy. The boys have a grill on their deck so we grilled some burgers and ate watermelon and corn:) My friends absolutely loved Kat and she loved them! I am so blessed to have such great friends back home and such a great group of friends here! These past few months I have bonded with this group of friends and we have decided that we are beyond friends, we are now family. I wish you all could meet them, because each one of them are so unique. We have been so lucky to all want to get the same out of our experience here, with no drama, and tons and tons of memories. I was so glad Kat got to meet all of them and see how fortunate I have been on this trip. I really could not have asked for better friends, and leaving them in 2 weeks is going to be the hardest thing…What makes it easier is knowing the friends and family I have to come back to:) Miss you all so much!

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beginning of the end..

May31

So today is the beginning of the last week of a great semester at UQ. Our classes end Friday, then we have a “study week” which I am using as a “travel week” and then 2 weeks to take our finals. I cannot believe how quickly this semester has flown by, and surprisingly I am sad to see the end:(.  Of the four classes that I am taking I have three finals and one paper that is due this Friday. Fortunately, I have already finished it because KAT LAWSON is coming to visit me tomorrow for about 10 days!!!!! I went ahead and finished the paper this weekend because I know that together, I will get absolutely no work done haha! I am so excited for her to get here!

Our plans include attempting to eat a meter diameter pizza with a bunch of my friends, hiking up to Mt. Cootha for sunset ( a lookout that over looks all of Brisbane!), a cookie/ sweets party with my girlfriends and Saturday we will hop on a plane and go up to Cairns until Wednesday! Cairns is known for the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest so we will be doing a day excursion out to a few islands to snorkel and a waterfall tour! I must say the best part of the waterfall tour will be the stop at a chocolate and cheese factory for some samples:) I know, typical Taylor.

Im sure Kat and I will find many more adventures while she is here, so stay tuned for my next post…we tend to be good at having fun together:). I hope all is well back home and before you know it I will be back in the ol Clarke County!

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still kickin…

May22

So I have heard that a few of you are concerned because the last time I posted was right after my concussion, and I have yet to write since! haha! Im so sorry! I am still alive and kickin..quite well actually! I have spent the last few weekends around Brisbane, with limited stories to tell you. My friends and I figured we’d take it easy for a few weekends before ending the trip with a bang up in Cairns doing the rainforest and the Great barrier reef! It has been extremely relaxing, yet still fun, just exploring Brisbane and getting to know people around here.

I have returned to wakeboarding and spent 3 hours yesterday at a wakeboarding cable park! It was really fun because it is this huge man made lake that had cables running above it that pulled you around. There were a lot of  jumps and ramps for the experts but dont worry I was just focused on getting around the lake as many times as I could haha! Needless to say I am extremellyyyy sore today:)

I hope everyone is still doing well in the States… I miss everyone so much and come back in one month and 2 days! Ahh I cannot believe my time is almost over here. It is going to be soo hard to say goodbye:( Hopefully the next time I post I will have more stories to entertain you with!:)

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CrAsH!

May3

So the last week in Brisbane has been beautiful. I have spent many days at our local “beach” with my girlfriends, at my friend Tam’s rugby game, and wakeboarding! I was so homesick when my parents left, but the sunshine and warm weather has really lifted my spirits and turned my week around!

This weekend has been a lazy weekend around Brizzy, but the change of pace is nice. Its kind of relaxing to just hang out around the city and not worry about traveling here to there and fitting as much into every weekend as we can!  The weekend started off with a bunch of us going to Tam’s rugby game, and even though they lost, we had a great time embarrassing Tam and cheering extremely loud for him!

Yesterday Allie and I headed to wakeboarding and little did I know it would be a loonngg day. We got there at about 11am but since one of the team’s boats was broken we only had one boat running for so many people! Good thing we had nothing to do yesterday because we ended up waiting until 5pm to go! It was still fun because the wakeboarding club is so funny and its just a great, relaxing atmosphere..and to add to it, it was a BEAUTIFUL day to just lay out on the dock and get some sun!

Im going to do my best describing the rest of the evening, but its a little blurry..so my apologizes. It was finally my turn and I got up and was doing all these great jumps..just having a blast! Then I went to cut into the wake and jump and accidently cut a littttle to hard because when I hit the wake I FLEW up and over the entire center of the wake and CrAsH! I smacked the water harder than ever..and this is where my memory gets blurry. I came up and knew my head was killing me so I told the boat driver to start heading back to the dock. I got back up on the board for a few more rounds and apparently was still jumping and riding great…Then I got back on the boat and realized my toe was bleeding. I had cut it on a glass bowl when my parents were here and its had a reallly hard time healing. My friend Emily asked how I cut it and I looked around, and couldnt remember how I cut it! I started mumbling because I couldnt remember. I asked Allie, but she was jumping in the water to wakeboard, but she yelled back it was when your parents were here! That still did nothing for me! Then my friend Sara was on the boat and told everyone the story about my toe..but I still didnt believe her. Then about 5 minutes later it came to me and I told everyone..but they started laughing and telling me that that was exactly what Sara had said..I was so confused. Then I turned around and asked the driver how long I rode for and he said 15 minutes and started laughing..Did you tell me that before? ..Everyone was like yess he told you that when you switched with allie on the dock… I was on the dock with Allie? What? When was I on the dock? I had no recolection of getting to the dock or switching the board and lifevest to Allie. So confused as to what was going on I just sat on the boat in silience..at this point everyone was like Taylor I think you have a concussion! Finally I got off the boat and Allie and I headed back home..I was completely out of it; couldnt text anyone, couldnt keep a conversation, was so intriged with lights, and really just wanted to sleep. Allie was really worried but we came back, showered and just relaxed. I started to feel better, or more coherent, but still had the worstttt headache ever and was a little dizzy! I was looking through my pictures and apparently I stayed on the boat for a guy after Allie and took pictures of him! haha! I have no idea who this guy is and have no memory of taking these pictures of him. We ended up calling a paramedic to come check me out and of course they were two tall young guys who kind of made fun of us and said that I was fine. The agreed that I definitely had a concussion, and that I just need to take it easy and keep up with the advil. I think I ended up being the joke of the ambulance last night, but I wanted to make sure I could go to sleep and that everything was ok!

Today, my neck and back are extremely sore but my headache and dizziness have gone down. Still in a little pain, but feeling much better! Unfortantely that means no more wakeboarding for the next few weeks:(

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A good ol visit from the good ol ma and pa.

April25

Well for the past two weeks my Mom and Dad came to visit and as you can see by the lack of posts we went non stop while they were here!  We did so much and I am now regretting not posting earlier this week as I hope I can remember everything we did!

When they first got here I took them for a tour of my campus and we got “flat whites” and lattes. My Dad got a kick out of the different coffee names and I think both of my parents will agree that Australian coffee blows American coffee out of the water! I think I heard my mom say at least a dozen times “Well we’ve only had two coffee’s today..” and everytime I heard this it wasnt even lunch time! haha! We had great dinners along the Brisbane river and lots and lots of Aussie chocolate:) We also took a day trip down to Surfers Paradise and even though it was quite cloudy and windy, we still had a great time shopping and eating..of course!

Our first weekend we flew up to the Whitsundays where we met Mary and Dan for a long weekend! Mary and Dan have been exploring the coast in their hippie camper van!! We got the Airlie Beach Wednesday evening and went out to dinner with the newly engaged couple for some delicious fish and chips! We spent our first two nights in a cute little camper park where we rented out a small cabin. Thursday consisted of hiking, McDonalds 50 cent ice cream cones, and a great homecooked meal! We got tons of fruit and veggies and aussie meat and made a big dish of stirfry (and fruit salad on the side). It was great, we cooked out on a public grill in our camper park! Friday we boarded the Alexander Stewart for our 3 day 2 night sail boat trip through the Whitsundays! The weather was perfect..we had sunshine to bronze our bodies, a little clouds so we didnt fry, and a little rain to cool us off! We snokelled twice and got to see tons of beautiful, exotic looking fish and coral and on the last day Mary, Dan, and I did some jumping of the front the boat! We went for a few bush walks where we would hike either to beautiful beaches or to the top of a mountain to look over all the islands! What a site! At night time we ate candybars and watched the millions of stars twinkle! I must say I have never seen so many stars at once, not even on a the clearest night on the farm! As soon as the boat docked Sunday afternoon we were off the the airport to catch our flight back into Brisbane and Mary and Dan headed off towards Cairns for the rest of their honeymoon trip!

This last week while I was in class, Mom and Dad did a lot of exploring through Brisbane. They went to a few musuems, toured St. Johns catheral, and did a lot of walking through the Botanic Gardens. Thursday morning we left for our final trip down to Byron Bay! If you ask any Australian around here where you should visit, I swear every one of them will say Byron Bay. And since I had yet to see it, I figured it would be a great place for the three of us to take a little trip to!…Let me tell you, they were all right. Byron Bay is this adorable little town that used to be a hippie town, but has since grown into a more surfers town, but still with a hint of hippie:). There are no sky scrapers, no cross walks, no business people pushing there way through crowds, and no one trying to out do one another. The beaches are spectacular and they wrap around the most easterly point of Australia! At the top of the hill there is a huge lighthouse and a great path that winds all the way to the top, looking out over cliff ledges and rolling waves. The town has tons of great restuarants and little cafes that are locally owned and run. We spent most of our time relaxing on the beach, playing in the water, and drinking beer at the local pub that looked out onto the water. There were little surfing families everywhere and everyone seemed so content with life..it was very refreshing! I will definitely be spending a lot more time down there:)

Last but not least..my Mom and I went SKYDIVING in Byron Bay!!!!!!! I can garentee that my mom is WAYY cooler than yours haha! The whole morning we were questioning our sanity, but it ended up being the most amazing experience! We took a tiny little plane up to 14,000 ft and jumped (tandem) out, free falling for 60 seconds! Once our parachutes opened up the guys that we jumped tandem with floated us near each other so we could be together as be reached the ground! Ahh what an experience I will never forget, and to say that I did it with my mom will make it that much more unforgettable:)

We returned home from Byron last night for our last night together:( Mom and Dad left this morning at about 8 to catch their 12 hour long flight back to LA. I felt like their time here just flewwww by, but I cannot express how happy it made me show them this little area of the world that I have fallen in love with. As sad as I was to say goodbye and I cannot forget all the great times we had together over the past 2 weeks! I cannot believe that I am over half way done with my semester..and before I know it I will be back in good ol Berryville:)

Miss you already…la ya.

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3,2,1 BUNGYYYYYYY!!

April12

Yes, Tuesday, my adrenline day, I bungy jumped from the 2nd tallest bungy jump in the WORLD and it was the most thrilling day of my life!! Im not sure if I mentioned in my last post, but this bungy is an 8 second free fall..Please take a minute to count out 8 seconds..its a lonnnggg timmee to be free falling haha! I was soo extremely nervous the entire night and morning before that by the time I got to the ledge I was so psyched to jump! Let me try to explain what I felt in the longest 8 seconds of my life… Seconds 1-2: Holy Crap I just jumped off a ledge that was held together on wires stringing from one cliff ledge to another..with a beautiful bright blue river flowing at the bottom, how exciting! Seconds 3-5: OOOOOO MANNN I AM FREE FALLING EXTREMELY FAST, WHAT DID I JUST DO?!  ( meanwhile this whole experience is literally taking my breath away) Seconds 6-7: I feel the rope somewhat catching me as I dip down close to the water..at this point I feel some relief because I dont feel like I just attempted suicide. Second 8: The high hits me as I take in the beauty of NZ and this once in a lifetime experience..I bounced a few times and then they pulled me up! Within a minute I was completely done with the most unforgettable moment of my life. What a rush to let myself  let go of all control and just…jump!

Later that day we went jet boating which is this extrememly fast boat that flies down the Shotover River barely missing cliff edges and rock shorelines!! Great addition to the adreniline day!

Wednesday, I decided to NOT let myself rest because theres no time to rest in the adventure capital of the world! My friend Rachael and I went canyoning, which consisted of hiking, ziplining, repelling, sliding down waterfalls, jumping off cliff ledges, and swimming through pools! Even though we were wrapped in wetsuits and booties for our feet, it was still extremely cold!! The water was 1 degrees celius, and the air temperature was about 18 degrees celius..that means that water was 58 F and the air was 68 F, except we were in a canyon so it was all shaded! Although it was freezing and I had zero feeling in my fingers, it was so fun and adventurous!! For 3 hours we explored this canyon! We ended Wednesday by taking the gondala up to the top of the mountain that overlooks queenstown and did the luge! There were 6 of us that went up, and it was a blast! We each got a little wooden cart/cas and drove down these tracks that threw us around each of their bends..it was a great way to end the day!

Thursday I was really feeling the hole that I had burnt in my wallet, so I decided to rent a bike and bike around the lake in Queenstown. It  was a great day and I got to stop and sunbathe on some rocks by the shore before returning my bike…ahh finally some relaxation:)

Friday was our travel day so we headed from Queenstown to Christchurch with a few stops on the way! Overall Friday was very calm day compared to our previous few days, but still the scenary of just driving through NZ was breathtaking. All the roads, even the major roads, have one lane in each direction, and you stop to get food when theres a town with a cafe. There are no exits with fastfood or rest stops, which was kind of nice for a change.  It was hard for me to sleep on these long trips though because I felt like everytime I closed my eyes I was missing some incredible view!

Saturday was our free day in Christchurch so me and my two girlfriends decided to be “sofisticated young adults” and go on a wine tour!  We went to 4 different vineyards and actually learned a lot about the different kinds of wine that NZ specializes in. We had a delicious lunch at the first vineyard and coffee or tea at the last one. We decided that this tour really fit well into our week of the most random, adventurous, exciting trips we had ever done…why not end it with a wine tour?! To just end the week with a bang we went to the Christchurch Crusaders rugby game that evening and cheered them on as the went to beat off the New South Wales Warhawks.

I am glad to report that I made it safely back to Brisbane without any plane mishaps or misbookings. Thank goodness I have no crazy story to finish this week with!

I would like to finish this post by telling you all how much I have realized the importance of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. It is so easy to surround yourself with people you know and places youre comfortable with, but its scary to put yourself out there, because theres risks, theres doubt, theres the chance that you might fail..but theres also the chance you might find something new out about yourself, and theres also the chance that you’ll succeed far more that you’d ever hope for, and its garenteed that by putting yourself out there youll learn something, maybe not something educational, but something about others, and yourself. By putting yourself out there, you learn to listen to others, you learn to enjoy life far beyond what you know or think “enjoying” is, you learn to take chances, you learn to replace “why?” with “why not?”, and most importantly you slowly learn about who you are…Stop and think..who are you?  I don’t know exactly who I am, but Im learning, everyday Im learning. Everday Im pushing myself beyond what feels “safe” for me. I push myself to meet people, to experience things, and to inspire myself. I want to live in the journey of my life, instead of focusing on my destination. This trip really showed me what I was capable of, because I truly believe that its once you push yourself that you find out what youre truly capable of. I would have never known that I could hike a glacier for 8 hours, or have the courage to jump off a bungy jump, but past that, I would have never known that I could go by myself to a country and really test myself. I have met some life long friends here, and have some unforgettbable memories, but I would have never had any of this without pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone and just…jump!

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The most beautiful country of them all…

April5

So I am currently in New Zealand and wanted to let you all know that if traveling to New Zealand is not on your bucket list, PUT IT ON YOUR LIST!! This is the most magical, beautiful, mysterious, unbelievable place I have ever been. I really wish I was a professional writer, but I am going to try to describe my time here in this post and all the posts to come!

I flew in to Christchurch Friday morning and stayed the night in a hostel with 3 other Brisbane students on the same trip as me. Christchurch reminded me of a European town, and I have never been to Europe haha! It was so cute and old fashion, yet very modern. We only stayed there one night because the next morning we met up with the other 30 students and jumped on a bus headed for Franz Josef.

I wish you all could have been on the bus ride to Franz Josef. We were weaving in and out of these incredible mountains with grey stones outlining all the clear blue rivers. The mountains were so detailed with rocks, trees, and some brown looking substance, maybe sand, on the top. I felt like I was in a movie. I will post pictures later to give you an idea of the beauty of this place. My words dont do it justice.

Franz Josef is where we hiked a GLACIER!!! It was one of the top moments of my life. We woke up early and got fitted in our snow pants, weather jackets, boots, clamp-ons (spikes for a boots), and hats and gloves. From there we took a 10 minutes bus ride up to the bottom of this glacier that looked like a gigantic river that was flowing down, in between two mountain and right before it hit the base, it froze!! We hiked 30 minutes to the base of the Glacier, where we put on our clamp-ons and started exploring! There was a group of about 10 of us who had a tour guide that led us in and out of ice structures all day long, 8 hours to be exact! We hiked up steep ledges, through tight tunnels, and on the edge of cliffs! On either of the glacier were these huge walls with waterfalls that trickeled down 100’s of feet. This day was unbelieveable..I wish there was a word bigger than unbelieveable, but its the first word that comes to my mind. Its something I have never experienced, and probably never will again. Its one of the those times in your life where you realize how small you are, and yet at the same time how big you are.  I would have never thought last Easter that in one year I would be exploring one of the biggest glaciers in NZ, eating Cadbury eggs at the top. I must throw up props to the man up top..He is so good to me and has blessed me with so much more than I could ever ask for. The glacier contained these pools of water that leaked down to one another and then down into the rivers that flowed from the Glacier..Yes I got to fill my water bottle up with the purest of the pure water.  By the end of this hike we were sooo exhausted and worn out that we went back to the hostel, make some delicious tacos, and then crashed.

One of my favorite quotes, and the quote that I have decided to make my life motto for this Australian/NZ trip is : Make your journey your destination. I am learning so much about myself, and at the same time having the time of my life. I am realizing how important it is to cherish every single moment, and to not let one moment get away. And most importantly, live life with no regrets, because at one time what you did was what you wanted…. That is why right now I am in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the WORLD..and tomorrow I begin my day by bungee jumping off the 2nd tallest bungee jump in the world (400 ft), then go jet boating, and then end the day with a pub crawl with all the locals. Wednesday consists of canyoning throughout the jungle..absailing, jumping of cliffs, and swimming down the river and I finish my Queenstown adventure by paragliding over Queenstown and the giant lake that it surrounds..I will update you all on my life after this trip..if I make it out alive!:) If I dont, at least it will be a great story:) Love you allll!

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Canberra, Melbourne, and the Great Ocean Road!

March30

Hi All,

I just got back from the most jam packed weekend of my life! 8 of the friends and I left our apartments at 3:45am Friday morning and didnt stop going until 11:30pm Monday night, so I think that gives you a little idea of how exhausted I am right now. I apologize now for any type-o’s or storys that do not make sense! haha! If you dont have time to read this entire book that im about to write in this post, skip to the end and read my story of coming home! It will make you laugh..garenteed.

Friday morning we flew out of Brisbane at 5:30am and got to our first stop, Canberra at 8am. Canberra is the capital of Australia, and not really known for anything but that. The story goes that Australians went back and forth between Sydney and Melbourne, trying to decide which would be the capital. They finally compromised and built a city half way between them and called in Canberra. There are a few memorials/important buildings that are there, but other than that its a pretty plain city so we decided to just do it all in one day (Friday).  While there we saw the old Parliment House, the new Parliment House, the war memorial, the National Museum of Australia, and ended the day with a beautiful hike to the top of a mountain that looks over the entire city! I was really glad that we got a see Canberra because it really made me realized how every country, every state, every person, has a story. As we went through our tours of the parliment houses it was really interesting to hear the stories of the government and how the became the country the are today! I guess not ever being outside of the US hit me that day, because before that I hadnt really heard the stuggles of other countries, coming from them. I have always had an “American”  view on the world, the Friday that changed.

Friday night we ended the night at a restuarant called The Debacle, where we had homemade pizzas and beer. This place has over 150 different kinds of beers, from all over the world. Needless to to say, it was the PERFECT way to end the extremely long day. That night, at 11:55pm, we got on our greyhound bus and drove overnight to Melbourne, our next adventure.

at 8am we arrived in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria. Melbourne is known as the fashion capital of Australia and is very highly spoken of as just a very neat city to visit.  We first visited the Old Melbourne Gaol, which is the old prison. It was opened in the late 1800’s and just closed down in 1994! This was such an interesting tour and we even got to participate in a reenactment of the life of prisoners at the gaol, which was fun!  The rooms that prisoners stayed in were tiny and they were usually locked up for 23 hours of the day. Ned Kelly is a famous criminal/bank robber/murderer in Australia, and actually spent some time in Melbourne Gaol, so it was interesting to learn about him. We then headed the the rental car place to pick up our two cars that we rented to drive the Great Ocean Road with! Once we sorted all of that out, we headed to Phillips Island for the Peguin Parade! Australia is home to the tiniest peguins in the world, so they stand about 1 foot tall…SO CUTE! We got to watch them come out of the water at dark and waddle up onto the shore to their little homes. They were really strict on observers NOT taking any sort of picture or video so unfortunately I have no documentation of this:( I did sneak and take a video but it didnt come out too well! Either way though, this was one of the top highlights of this trip!

Alright Day 3, Sunday, we woke up and were on the road by 7am! This is veryyy impressive because traveling with 5 boys means that you never get anywhereee on time..never. You would think its the girls that take forever to get ready or get going, but with this group its the TOTAL opposite haha! Anyways, we first headed to Torquay which is a big surfers town, with great swells and beach shops. We spent all morning there doing everything from watchin a Pro Surf competition to shopping at all the major surf shops. We then got in our cars and headed down the Great Ocean Road. This road is probably exactly how you are picturing it. It winds right along the coast, up and down the cliffs, and around the bends. We never had a bad view on the road as we were either looking directly off cliff ledges or driving along the beach. We made a few stops at lighthouses, beaches, lookouts, and waterfalls. The waterfall was probably my favorite moment of the entire trip. It was unbelieveable as it was a huge waterfall that poured into what looked like a rainforest. Please check facebook for all my pictures! We ended the night by driving into a national park and doing a glow worm walk. We didnt really know what were getting ourselves into because it was not a guided tour. It was just another trail in the national park that you could do at night..and we didnt even really know what we were looking for other than little things that hopefully glowed! We all grabbed our flashlights and walked about 1k down a path stopping every now and then and looking for glow worms. After about 1k we stopped and their were rocks FULL of glow worms and they covered the forest. It was such a spectatular thing to see as we all stood there in the middle of a forest and watched this show of glow worms. Even though Im a baby and scared to death of the dark, especially the dark of the woods, it was incredible to see and Im so glad I didnt chicken out! We ended up renting two cabins for the night in Princetown, which we never seemed to find a “town”, but we did find these cabins!

Once again, up and at them, we were on the road at 7am on Monday to make it to the 12 Apostles for sunrise. One of the most popular and well known stops of the Great Ocean Road is the 12 Apostles, which are 12 huge pointy rock structures that protrude from the oceans shore. This was truely beautiful, and although it was a cloudy morning, nothing stopped this view from being unbelieveable. After this we made a few more stops at lookouts that just blew my mind. Every stop had these huge cliff side edges that dropped down into this deep torquiose water that crashed up its side. The cliff sides had huge rock structures next to them and caves within them. My description is not even getting close to describing what I saw..and my pictures barely captured it. Well after these stops we headed back to Melbourne, stopping at St Regis vineyard on the way. There we sampled some local wine and looked out over tons of farms. Dad, they have ROUND HAIL BAILS here! I took a picture for you because I couldnt help but miss Ellerslie as we drove through tons and tons of farms. My friends actually joked that they wanted to me feel more at home so they decided to drive through the farm land on our way back haha! We got back to Melbourne at about 5, returned the cars, and then headed off the the airport, where the REAL adventure of my trip begins…to say the least.

So we get the airport nice and early and wait in line to get our boarding passes. As Im checking in, the guy at the desk tells me he cant find my name on the flight..Theres no way of this..I definitely got a confirmation email, but didnt print it out..but I know I bought a ticket. He points me in the direction of a computer that I can use so I go over there second guessing myself every step I take..maybe I didnt buy the ticket! I get to my email and open my confirmation attachment to find that I booked my flight for March 28th, yesterday at the time. No way..theres no way..yes theres a way because I make mistakes like this allll the time..but theres no way I did this with a FLIGHT! I run back and am tryin to talk to the guy and explain my situation. At this moment my friend Mark is also  having trouble with his flight..he finds out that he booked his for the 31st, the next day! haha! O geez, so Im franctically trying to get on the flight that my groups on, but he informs me that it just got sold out and the next flight is tomorrow morning at 6am. I cant do that flight I have class alll day Tuesday, and honestly am exhausted and just want to get back to Brisbane and in my bed!! I start getting very frantic so he advises me to go back to the computer (mind you that this computer is on the other side of this builing) and look for other flights on other airlines..ok I can do that. I am searching the internet like a manic and I find a virgin airlines ticket that leaves at 9pm, its 8pm right now, but I dont care Im doing it! Enter my credit card info..denied..enter my other CC info..denied! At this point all my friends have to leave to go to there gate and Mark and I stay behind. Apparently they were all telling Mark that he had to take care of me haha! So Mark and I are trying to figure this all out until he realizes that my flight leaves in an hour! He was like we have to get the Virgin Airlines desk and just buy it there! We start running down the road at this airport as I am tryin to tell him that I dont even know if that flight was from this airpot! There are 3 airports in Melbourne! We finally make it to the desk and luckily it was that airport. The guy at the desk tries to tell me to buy it online because its $15 cheaper…GIVE ME THE **** TICKET I DONT CARE ABOUT THE $15! As Im buying it he askes if its just me flying..I look at Mark and he him sweating, contimplainting whether or not he should just get on the flight too! Mark is the funniest person I know, so I really couldnt have picked a better person to go through this with. I start laughing at this point and dont stop until we land in Brisbane. Mark decides to go with it and get the ticket too, partially because I begged him to get on the flight with me..I didnt want to go alone!  So he checks his huge back pack and we are off to our gate! O before this, as we are buying our flights, the guy at the desk is telling us that we need to go have a drink..hahaha! So at this point we have about 40 minutes before our flight boards, and were running to security laughing about how typical this is of us..I know for me this mistake is no surprise to my parents…its actually very typical of me, and apparently it was the same for him. We get to security, I go through as Mark empties his pockets full of coins, papers, apples, and a water bottle..I know who knew all that could fit in pockets. Then I get through and hear him yell TAYLOR, I turn around to see him holding up his swiss army knife. On our flight to Canberra we went through this same situation with another guy AND Mark, so I could not hold in my laughter. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?! yells Mark. I was laughing so hysterically at this point that I could even yell back to him..I could barely breathe. His bag is checked and he has this knife that he need to get in his checked bag. I motion for him to run back to the desk and try to get it on the plane. He turns around and books it back to the gate.  I, on the other side of the security, am still dying laughing while all the security guards stare at me with straight faces and people are moving through. Mark makes it back and as were walking to our gate he explains to me that they had a box at the front desk that they let him put together and tape up.

Well we made it to flight and back to Brisbane to find that his package did not make it onto the moving thing with all the suitcases. We start asking around and they finally come out with this huge box! haha! That box had Marks tiny knife in it. There is soo much more detail to this story but I just cannot begin to type it because I could write forever. Please remind me to tell you this story when I get home, or ask my parents about it!

Ok Mark just read my blog and reminded me that I forgot to mention the 95 year old looking 70 year old woman who sat next to us on the plane, who cherished the quarter pounder she just got at McDonalds…haha! Yes, this is what I mean by the fact that I just have to tell you this story in person..it just keeps getting better!

My parents have requested that I also add the story of my conversation with the flight attendant! Ok so Mark and I are on the plane and the flight attendents are coming down the aisle with drinks for purchase. Being the American I am I asked if any of the drinks were complimentary. The flight attendant looked at me and questioned what I said so I repeated, you know, complimentary. He looks at me and says “You have nice hair.” What?? I look at Mark who is just as confused..” I have nice hair? …Thanks.” He responds with “Well thats the only compliment I could come up with, sorry”, hahaha! Unfortunately, nothing was FREE, but later on in the flight the flight attendant brings me a canned whiskey and coke and says ” You ordered a coke ma am?.. No worries, its on me, but you still have nice hair.” Little did he know, he had just completed my night. As I got off the plane, I thanked him so much and told him he had NO idea how much I needed that. Its little gestures like that that make Australian’s so unique. This guy wasnt hitting on me, or trying to impress me, he was just being a genuinely nice guy, and he had no idea how much it meant to me:) 

Thank you parents for being so understanding of my mistake and waste of money..Im glad I could laugh about it with you! I promise I will grow up one day..just probably not in the near future:)

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