melbs

Hello, fellow readers! You have probably seen my pictures from Melbourne, so I am going to tell you all about my amazing weekend there.

Well, the trip did not have a great start.  After getting lots of hours of work in, finishing school assignments, and being caught up with my lectures; I was looking forward to flying out of Sydney after my tutorial on Friday. I wake up Friday morning from the worst message from TigerAir, saying that my flight was pushed back to 7:00AM Saturday. I was super bummed out that I was missing OUT on a day of adventure with Zoe and Jennifer. But, luckily the flight to Melbourne the next morning ran very smoothly.

I arrived and walked outside and it felt like an October in Ohio. I got used to the weather after about 5 minutes –because after all I have seen all four seasons in one day living in Ohio my whole life. Melbourne’s public transportation is SO much better than Sydney’s. I was able to get a shuttle from the airport to my hostel! I probably would have spent twice as much taking an uber. But, anyways since I missed out on a day of fun in Melbs, I was eager to get the show on the road (literally).

I met up with my travelling buddies Zoe (my Toronto fan – go cavs btw) and Jennifer (another Cali friend) at a café along the Yarra river and we had breakfast and coffee and quickly made our way to the car rental place to get our ride for the Great Ocean Road. And, to mine and Zoe’s demise we were given another Fiat – no intentions of sleeping in a car this time. After getting the keys, I made my way down the street and we quickly discovered the car had a weird gas leak smell to it and the engine was making weird noises. Being typical girls, we initially panicked and turned our hazards on in a very busy intersection on a Saturday morning in Melbourne. The car people drove our Fiat back and we were upgraded to a Toyota Camry – hallelujah. Some of you, will not be surprised at all about why our car started to have problems. Jennifer picked up on it after we were given the keys to the Camry,  that I never pulled my emergency break lever down – whoops. Lol, we kept our mouths shut and made our way to the Great Ocean Road.

 

For any of you who want to know the Great Ocean Road, it is one of the most famous roads in the World. And it is about 151 miles long and is the largest war memorial in the world (thank you Wikipedia). We have had friends who did this as a tour in one day, but since we had the time we wanted to spread it out and do it ourselves. On the first day we didn’t see many of the touristy attractions. We ate lunch at this café where Zoe and I had the most disappointing meringues. Jennifer also drove for the first time on the other side of the road after my shift of driving. I did not know if it was the lack of sleep, my sinus/allergies symptoms/the meringue/or the winding roads and sitting in the back seat. But, I had to make Jennifer pull over to the side of the road twice so I could puke. After being car sick, we made it to our hostel in Port Campbell. We had this disgusting microwavable pizza and bonded with a German guy in our room. It was a great start to the trip.

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my typical order -skim flat white

Since we all passed out super early, and didn’t see much of the touristy things we made our way to the 12 Apostles to watch the sunrise. And wow, it was absolutely beautiful – 10/10 would recommend. Another bonus, we beat the tourist crowd at the 12 Apostles.  We returned to our hostel showered, checked out, and had breakfast at another café. Next on our list was the Loch Ard Gorge, then the London Bridge, the Grotto, Bay of Islands, and the Erksine Falls. We were so lucky it was a nice day and we beat the tourist crowd. I took many of panoramic shots, time lapses, and go pro shots along the way (yes, I am making another video). After, getting completely lost on the way back, we made it back to Melbourne right around dinner time. I absolutely loved driving on this road – the Victoria countryside reminded me so much more of the US and it was so different compared to driving through New South Wales and Queensland. It was also fun blasting music and having jam sessions along one of the most beautiful drives in the World. We checked into our hostel that night and ate at an Indian restaurant for dinner.

(12 Apostles, fun fact: Florida Georgia Line’s H.O.L.Y music video was filmed here)

(Loch Ard Gorge; we definitely had the most fun with photoshoots here)

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London Bridge

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The Grotto

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Bay of Islands

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Erskine Falls; lol we were forced to use these stranger’s selfie stick

We began another start to our day at a café at one of the many laneways in Melbourne. The city already had a different feel from Sydney. I have only been to Dublin and Belfast in Europe, but Zoe said it was a very European like city. After our amazing breakfast, we walked around and made our way to the famous Graffiti alley on Hosier Lane. The alley was so lively with all of the people and some street performers and we had our photo-shoots in the Graffiti Alley. After, the graffiti alley we made our way to Brighton Beach which is one of Melbourne’s most famous beaches. The famous bathing houses that sit along this beach go for over $100,000 – fun fact. We walked along the beach and had another photo-shoot, and then walked along a pier to get a good glimpse of the city. After that, we made our way to St. Kilda’s. This neighborhood was filled with shops and restaurants. We had dessert and coffee at this really cute café and took pictures in front of the Famous Luna Park (my inner six year old Mary Kate & Ashley fan was in heaven). We decided to eat dinner at Lentil’s As Anything in St. Kilda. Lentil’s is a vegan restaurant offering pay-as-you-feel prices – perfect for Uni students like us and I have been to the one in Sydney before. After, dinner we made our way back to the hostel to go out for the night. Our hostel’s bar had a boozy bingo night – which actually was a blast and we sang karaoke and got free drinks for it. Since, it was a Monday night not many places were open to go out at. So, we just decided to go to bed.

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More avo toast please! One of the many laneways in Melbourne

(Hosier Lane the famous Graffiti Alley)

(Brighton Beach)

(St. Kilda’s)

Our last day in Melbs began at another café. We then made our way to the ACMi (Australian Center for Moving Image), where we walked around and saw some cool exhibits. Then, I was so excited to take the free tram over to the Queen Victoria Markets. We browsed around the markets for a bit and then headed to this crepe place where Jennifer and Zoe had nutella crepes at on Friday. Then, we made our way to the Eureka Skydeck where you can see amazing views of the city from the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. We said our goodbyes to Jennifer because she had an earlier flight back to Sydney and Zoe and I enjoyed our last meal in Melbourne which was Greek food.

(Last Day in Melbourne)

This trip was so much fun and I couldn’t have asked for better travel buddies. Melbourne exceeded my expectations. Honestly, Sydney and Melbourne are tied for me (Sydney – the harbour, the beaches; Melbourne – the city, and I really miss seasons). I am looking forward to these last three weeks in Australia and so glad I have made some awesome new friends. Australia, I love you so much -Annie

wollongong and such

All of these weekends and experiences are all clumping together and I am going to try my best to recall the eventful things going on in my life.

I had a fabulous weekend in Wollongong thanks to my friend Katie Dominis. Katie is my other Aussie friend who did exchange at UC in Fall 2014. Katie and her mom were so kind to pick me up and drive me back to their place in Wollongong which is about an hour south of Sydney. On Friday night, we had a relaxing night of pizza and Netflix – which was much, much needed. On Saturday, we started our day off early by going to Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk, where we saw amazing views overlooking Wollongong. After that, Katie and I went for walk in the nearby rainforest and on the Wollongong beach where we enjoyed a nice coffee. Upon of my request, since I did not know that Outback Steakhouse was actually in Australia, we met up with Katie’s high school friends for dinner and drinks. After, an amazing meal of bloomin’ onions and American food – we finished off our night at a local bar that was across the street from the beach. Sunday was also an eventful day. We had brunch at one of Katie’s favorite restaurants that overlooked the ocean. We then, headed back to Sydney where we met up with Katie’s friends from college (which is the equivalent to an Australian frat) to go to this 70’s themed party at Bondi Junction. The party was fun and we had a great time, then Katie spent the night at my room. Little did I know, that this was the last time I was going to see her in Australia, since she was heading off the Europe for a few months (jealous). It was so nice to actually spend time in a home rather than my student accommodation, and to be around a family (made me miss mine). Katie’s friends were all very nice and it was really fun spending time with Aussies rather than exchange students. BIG S/O to Katie Dom again ilysm (:

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We both conquered our fear of heights on the Illawarra Tree Tops

I have also spent some time with my other Aussie friend Rosie. Unlike me, Rosie is actually a real person with a real full time job ): But, it is so nice whenever I get the chance to see her. We have met up a couple of times in Sydney and she was so nice to invite me to where her parents live in Cronulla (south of Sydney right before Wollongong). Rosie has taken me to her favorite brunch spots near her parent’s and her place in Paddington. We have also done some light shopping at the Bondi Junction mall and at a local market. I also got to snag a pic with Rosie at her graduation at uni (which at Sydney Uni, the ceremony is held the semester after they graduate).  And another one of my Aussie friends is leaving me again – but luckily I haven’t said my goodbye’s to Rosie before she heads to California.

It has been great catching up with old friends about what has been going on in each other’s lives since their exchange at UC. Rosie and Katie have made me feel more at home in Australia and it has been nice sharing our exchange experiences with each other (now I know what you’ve been through). I cannot wait to see you two again….and who knows where we will be!

Now I have less than one month in Australia – where did that time go? I have been trying to balance working (because I am becoming so incredibly broke), school, and fitting in some things to do in Sydney. Luckily, I have a lot of exchange friends who are all in the same boat (aka Potluck crew).

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the weekly crew

Here is a shot of Laura and my new Canadian friends, and I who spent the day exploring the Rocks and climbed the Harbour Bridge (the $8 one, not the $300 one). We were able to get an amazing view of the sunset overlooking the whole harbour. I also made Laura come with me to the Irish bar, the Mercantile, at the Rocks – where I saw the biggest cockroach in my life on Laura’s chair.

I have also have had friends who are always down to go to the beach whether if it is Manly, Bondi, or Coogee I am taking full advantage of the Aussie beaches while I can.

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Here is a shot of my friend Kelly and I having a photo-shoot at a neighboring beach near Manly.

This was the most recent event that has happened in my life. A few of us from my building decided to go see the infamous Figure 8 pools at Royal National Park. Since we are #blessed to have Aussie friends who have cars, we drove out to the pools on a Sunday afternoon. It was the nicest day of the week and we made the 3km hike out to the Figure 8 Pools. The pools were amazing, but we had a short time having a photo-shoot since the tide was very strong. (Caylynn and Troy got annihilated by the waves.)

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waves that hit the cliff, flooded the pools, wiped out people and almost killed (maybe a bit exaggeration) Caylynn and Troy

We hiked around more of the area and really just began to embrace the nature that was around us. Man oh mighty, Australia you make me happier and happier each day.

Cheers,

Annie

 

spotaneity

I haven’t been so great of keeping up with this blog lately. So I will give the readers an overview of my past couple weeks in Sydney. Besides with being busy with classes, group projects, and endless amounts of papers I have had heaps of fun. There is a group of about 20 of us exchange students who all get together weekly and have a dinner. It has been sort of like a family in a way – we always keep the group updated with plans throughout the week/weekend. I have managed to make myself go to the beach as much as I can. Now that my semester is more than half way over, I am trying to take advantage of the Australian beaches – because let’s face it the beaches of Lake Erie are not even comparable whatsoever.

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typical Friday evening at Bondi

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a stroll through our campus

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alley way by the Ivy Night Club

With our sports class, we attended Greyhound racing which was entertaining and exciting. We were also allowed to place bets on the dogs racing during this event. Our professor gave me money to make bets on a dog – but unfortunately I was unlucky and lost him money. Still, have yet to go to an AFL game – on my list of things to do before I leave.

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A couple weeks ago, my friend Zoe approached me the idea of making a trip to Jervis Bay which is four hours south of Sydney. And, with school assignments due that weekend I just took the chance and went on the spontaneous road trip. Martita, Laura, and Kelly joined us as well. We rented a car through another backpacker car rental company and I can cross “driving on the other side of the road” off my list. Martita was the site seeing expert on this trip. We drove to a couple of lookout points, to the Nan Tien Temple in Wollongong (largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere), the Kiama blow hole, and finally to Jervis Bay. Jervis Bay was stunning in spite of the cold and cloudy weather we had. I took some of my favorite pictures in Australia at Jervis Bay. Since it was only about 4PM after that, we were trying to figure out our plans for the rest of the night. What we found out about Jervis Bay was that they do not have much accommodation options for someone on a uni student’s budget and that everything was booked for the Anzac Day weekend. We were offered a waitress’ couch to sleep on, but we made the decision to sleep in our tiny little Fiat. We drove to a campsite and just talked and hung out until we all passed out. After about 2 hours of sleep, we made our way back to Sydney. This was one of my favorite memories in Australia because it was so spontaneous. I had so much fun with Zoe, Kelly, Laura, and Martita and it was fun to get out of Sydney for the weekend. But, I will never sleep in a Fiat ever again.

Anzac Day is a lot like our Memorial Day in the US. It is a holiday that recognizes the armed forces of New Zealand and Australia during World War II. I spent Anzac Day with the touch footy team that I joined. In case if you did not know football can mean three different sports in Australia. This “footy” is rugby – very fun sport to pick up and play. And like Americans on Memorial Day, Australians know how to celebrate their country’s holidays.

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I have also found a great route to run at in Sydney through Bicentennial Park along the Rozelle Bay which overlooks the Anzac Bridge. It has been one of my favorite runs that I have done and it is a great way for me to clear my head. But, otherwise these past couple of weeks have flown by and I can’t believe the semester is coming to an end. I am behind on some of my blog posts because I’ve been trying to fit as many activities in before I leave – so bear with me (;

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Darling Harbour Fireworks that are every Saturday Night

-Annie

Blue Mountains

 

One of my favorite experiences I have had in Australia has been my weekend in the Blue Mountains. I went on this incredible field trip with my Learning in Outdoor Education class. We left very early on a Friday morning and took a two hour train ride to Katoomba, the town of Blue Mountains. Earlier in the week, we were able to pick people to be in our cabin for the weekend. Mandy, Zoe, Kelly, and Veronica were all in my cabin and it was great group of people to spend the whole weekend with.

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Our first day we did a tourist-y hike where we climbed up 900 steps (boy, I am a lot more out of shape than I thought I was), and saw an unbelievable view of the famous three sisters. I hiked with my cabin members, our instructor Joel, and another cabin group. It was great to get to know the people in my cabin better and to meet new people.

 

After our first hike, we were sent to the grocery store to buy food for the weekend. Expecting hostel-like accommodation, I was pleasantly surprised with our cabin for the weekend. Also, we were in charge of heating up our own cabin for the night, so you could say we’re pyro experts now (; Each night we had our “lecture time” reflecting on our experiences around a campfire. And,  fun fact  Australians have never heard of s’mores so we improvised by using biscuits, cadbury chocolate, and flavored marshmallows (raspberry was disgusting).

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Our instructors told us we had a difficult hike to prepare for the next day – and boy we’re they right. We hiked about 7km through a difficult terrain of the Blue Mountains. It took about 8 hours to climb all the way down and up the mountain and it was one of the hardest physical activities I have ever completed in my life. But besides, the hike being incredibly difficult it was super fun to get to hike with my cabin members and another cabin group, all day. Also the views from the hike were absolutely breathtaking. We ended our second day pretty much the same way as our first night. Our last day we hiked without instructors and with just our cabin group and it was a great way to end the trip.

On this trip everything had started to hit me all at once. I don’t know if it was the fresh air, or being disconnected from our phones the whole weekend, or the deep reflective talks we had around the camp fire – but I realized how incredibly lucky I am to be in Australia for the semester. I have had seen some of those most beautiful scenery in the world, I have been able to participate in experiences most people dream about, and I have met so many different types of people from all around the world. I could not be any more grateful and appreciative for the experiences I have had in Australia and that I even had the opportunity to make it down under (s/o to Mom and dad especially).

On the Blue Mountains trip was the first time I have noticed a change in myself since when I first got to Australia – and now I notice it more and more each day. Also, so happy that weekend in the Blue Mountains allowed me to get to know Zoe, Veronica, and Kelly better. And it’s been so nice finally feeling comfortable and able to be my weird self in front of all of these new people.

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Australia, you never cease to amaze me. I am looking forward to the next month and a half that I have left here.

-Annie

 

 

Mid-semester break

“The best day of your life is the one where you decide your life is your own. No apologizes or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours. It is an amazing journey, and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day our life really begins.” – Bob Moawad.

This quote caught my attention particularly because I can personally relate to this with the experiences I have had in Australia so far. My trip during my mid-semester break was absolutely incredible and I did things that most people do not even get to experience in their lifetime.

About a month before this trip, I was really wanting to go to the Great Barrier Reef during our 10 day break of this semester. Mandy and I were casually looking at flights and events to book and within one week we were able to get Laura, Chris, and Ava to join us on our 2,000km trip up the coast of Queensland.

Gold Coast:

We were greeted at the airport by Uncle Will and Aunt Maxine after our one hour plane ride. Chris and I picked up our car that we were renting for the week, while Ava, Mandy, and Laura got some beach time at Broadbeach. After unloading our things, Maxine made us a lunch and we quickly made it to Tullebudgera Creek. It felt nice to tell my friends about the different spots in Gold Coast as we were driving around and it was comforting to be back at a familiar place. After our afternoon swimming in Tullebudgera we were treated like royalty and had a fantastic dinner at Maxine’s (with some wine as well). It was a great first night to the trip. And, Maxine and Will were amazing hosts and am still so grateful for that night (:

Brisbane:

Since, I spent some time earlier in my trip here, I planned out free things to do during our day trip to Brisbane (being on a uni student budget). We explored Southbank and had lunch there, walked around the city, and went on the free ferry ride around the river. But, we were eager to continue on our journey up the coast.

Hervey Bay/Fraser Island:

We came to Hervey Bay for our first night and booked our hostel last minute and very quickly. We soon found out minutes in that our room had bugs crawling around everywhere. We embraced the gross hostel and learned our lesson to not quickly book a hostel last minute and to check how clean they were. We quickly got out of that bug infested hostel and made our lunches for our Fraser Island day. We did not have anything planned in particular for this trip, so we just took the ferry ride over to the Island. The water was so clear and the island was absolutely beautiful. We went for a swim and lunch at the beach right by where the ferry dropped us off. We had a great walk around parts of the Island and the views were spectacular. I wish we did planned more things to do in Fraser Island but, I guess I will just have to make my way back there in the future. We spent our second night in a much much cleaner hostel and we were all looking forward to the remaining of the trip.

Utopia Rock Pools

After talking to some locals on Fraser Island, we were told to break up the 14 hour drive from Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach by stopping at these natural rock pools. We already planned on staying at Rockhampton that night, so we decided to take the day trip out to Utopia. Driving on dirt roads to the middle of nowhere Queensland, we saw many mountains and lots of wild cattle (probably more cows than people in this area). The rock pools were a part of a whole National Park called Mount Walsh. After a hike into the woods of these mountains, we found the rock pools they were absolutely stunning, and I was the first one to jump into the clear waters of these natural pools. We spent a couple of hours jumping off the cliffs into the pools, sliding down rock slides, and getting footage with my gopro. We were all so glad by the end of the day that we explored there. Then, we celebrated by splurging on a box of goon (gross cheap boxed wine) for the night.

Airlie Beach/Whitsundays

We were so eager to make it to Airlie Beach. I was already looking forward to the next two nights because the town of Airlie Beach was filled with young backpackers and fun night life spots. After eating dinner, we met the two other people staying in our hostel with us for that night and they invited us to go out with them that night. We had our two friends Annabelle and Lovisa come out with us, and we soon grew to a huge group having a party in our hostel.

The next day was one of my favorite days of the whole trip. We booked a catamaran day trip through the Whitsunday Islands before we left Sydney. We got on the boat at 8 AM and began our cruise for the day. It was absolutely gorgeous sailing through the islands, we got to snorkel, stop at Whitehaven Beach (which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world), and got free drinks and an awesome lunch. The snorkeling was just a preview of what the Great Barrier Reef was going to be like and I was really excited and happy about it. We ended our day at about 5PM and had another night out at Airlie Beach where we met up with some of our other uni friends.

Cairns

Since we had a nine hour drive we decided to break up the drive again. Ava found another rock pool area that we could check out called Crystal Creek. We cooled ourselves down for the day and we able to see a waterfall (: We were all pretty beat after a long day of driving so we all crashed when we got to Cairns.

We booked another boat trip for the day. We went on a much bigger boat to the outer part of the Great Barrier Reef. This cruise included more snorkeling and an introductory dive. Originally, Mandy and Ava were going to join me for the intro dive, but they felt sea sick like Chris and Laura and skipped out on it. We made it out to the snorkeling area after a very rocky ride and had our first snorkel. The water was so choppy that it made it difficult to swim around in the water but the snorkeling was even better than it was in the Whitsundays. Then, I began my introductory dive which was my favorite thing that I have done so far in Australia. I had a one on one lesson with an instructor and I was able to see many parts of the reef, stingrays, sharks, nemo, and got to pet & feed a sea turtle. I was absolutely amazed by the scuba diving that I was convinced to do a second dive (where I actually could bring my gopro), but to my demise I did not see as many cool things as the first dive. But, I will always remember the experience of it.

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The next day Mandy, Ava, Chris, and I booked a sky diving trip. I have always wanted to go skydiving and I was so excited when I finally booked it. We all jumped into this tiny plane about 14,000 feet high overlooking the Great Barrier Reef and the mountains surrounding Cairns. I was freaking out when our instructor opened up the door, and when I saw Mandy jump out of the plane. Then my turn was up, and I barely had time to process that I was jumping out of a plane. The first ten seconds of the dive was the most exhilarating thing I have ever experienced (I thought I was going to die at one point). But, then it became so much more relaxing and I was able to see all of the land below me. We were all full of adrenaline after the dive but then decided to spend the remaining day at the pool at our hostel.

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Our hostel Gilligans was the nicest hostel we stayed at the whole trip and it felt more like a resort than a hostel. We had a great last night out at Gilligan’s bar and met up with more friends from uni. Then, we finally dropped our car off at its designated location and flew back to Sydney.

The amazing experiences of sailing through the Whitsundays, scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, and skydiving was incredible – but I thought that driving through the country side Australia and having the independence of doing what we wanted made the trip. This was the first vacation I ever solely booked on my own. I had never stayed in hostels before this trip and I went with four people that I have not known for long and that were all from different parts of the world. I met so many amazing people along the way and it was great getting to know the people who were on the trip with me.  I am also just so blow away by the things I saw and I am very sad knowing that the reef is slowly dying.

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This trip itself was something I will always remember and it has sparked my traveling bug and I am looking forward to more journeys in the future. Also, there will be a video footage of this trip soon (;

keen on UniLife

I have done lots of “Sydney” activities in these past two weeks. Our campus is near Newtown, which is a fun and upbeat neighborhood perfect for Uni students. I have eaten at several delicious places around here and have checked out some bars with friends. My friend Mandy and I checked out the Glebe market, one of the many weekend markets around Sydney and it had excellent second hand merchandise.

 

In my Australia Sport class, we have the coolest professor ever. He prefers to be called Steve as opposed to be called Dr. or Professor like every professor I have had at UC. And, he gives extra credit for people who take the best selfies at each sporting event and encourages drinking at the events. We went to the Bowls Club on a Friday afternoon, and I had no idea what to expect coming into it.  We were told to wear all white, and then we had to take off our shoes to participate. It was fun drinking while playing a laid back game that is similar to our bowling. Contrary to it being an “old man’s” game, I would definitely do this again.

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Last Friday, our class had a field trip the rugby union game. It was the New South Wales team playing against a team from New Zealand. This rugby league differed from the other rugby game I attended, it was more intense and professional rather than the NRL (National Rugby League) which is more family and community based. Unfortunately, New Zealand beat the Warratahs in a close match. But, it was really cool attending a sporting event in Australia that is as big and exciting as an NFL game (Uncle Mike Walsh would really like going to an Aussie rugby match). After the game, Steve took a group of us to a bar down in the Darling Harbour.

Australia offers many great hikes and walks to go on. I went on the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal walk with my friends Ava and Lovisa. It was incredible and nothing like I have ever seen before. The walk took about two hours and we got to see all of the beaches in between two major beaches in Sydney.

And then for my outdoor education class, we took a trip to the Royal National Park – one of the oldest parks in the world (next to Yellowstone s/o to Jim). It was absolutely incredible. The walk completely blew my mind, and our tour guide Pete was pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it rained halfway through our hike but it did not stop us from enjoying our time. I often think to myself that we do not have anything like this back in Ohio, so I try to take in as much of the beautiful scenery as I can.

This was also the first time ever not being in Cleveland for St. Patrick’s Day. I usually skipped school or didn’t have it on St. Patrick’s Day, but this was the first time ever I attended classes. It was quite odd not starting out the day at St. Colman’s for mass then heading to the parade. I was shocked that I didn’t see anyone wearing green on campus that day. After classes lots of people were getting together in our building before going out and I was the only one drinking Guinness and Bailey’s, and there were not many people (including Australians, Americans, and Europeans) wearing green. I figured that going to an Irish pub needed to happen ASAP because people in my building didn’t even know the song Galway Girl.

A group of us headed to Kelly’s, the Irish bar in Newtown. I was finally seeing some normalcy in this holiday. Ava and I were eager to get us and our friends Irish Car Bombs. We went up to the bar and ordered them and the bartender looked at us like we had three heads. A bartender at an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s Day, really didn’t know how to make an Irish Car Bomb. Ava and I literally told the bartender how to make the drink. I was so surprised because you can basically order that drink anytime of the year and pretty much every bar in the US (even Woody’s in Clifton). I was determined to make the most out of this St. Patrick’s Day. Some people believed that I was actually from Ireland because of the County Mayo jersey I was wearing and my friends even convinced me to Irish dance in front of people (for the two years of lessons I did as a kid lol). Overall, it was a good time and a St. Patrick’s Day I will never forget.

I am in the midst of school and getting used to my new job making Australian coffee. I am also preparing a trip up the coast with friends. My next post will be all about my road trip from the Gold Coast to Cairns – seeing the Great Barrier Reef within.

 

sydney beginnings

It has been a while since I’ve posted! I have been so busy with getting adjusted to Sydney. Not only getting used to living in a big city, but getting adjusted to a new university. My first week here was filled with meeting many new people and exploring different parts of Sydney. I managed to go the beach twice in the first week and went on an amazing dinner cruise on the Sydney Harbor.

One of things that has been a big change to get used here was public transportation. Growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland most of life, public transportation is something I am not used to at all. People who are not from Ohio usually comment on how our public transportation is not good. Luckily being a student, we get a discount (:

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The three beaches that I have visited in Sydney have been Bondi, Manly, and Cogee. They were all so nice for being public beaches. You can jump on a ferry to Manly Beach and see the whole city which is awesome. And yes, I have not managed to get annihilated by the sun.

The amount of people I have met in the past two weeks is a bit overwhelming! But, it is really cool how I have met people from all over the world! Each and every day that I am here I am meeting new people.

Also this is the first time in my college career that I am taking electives. I am in an Australian Sport and Culture class, which includes many field trips to Australian sporting events. I have already attended a rugby league match. I would somewhat compare it to an NFL game (minus the drunk Browns fans). People are so passionate about rugby here. The other elective that I am taking is called Outdoor Education and we are going on field trips to the Blue Mountains and the Royal National Park.

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And yes, I am taking some real classes as well. But, I am excited to get more immersed into this culture with these classes. I have also explored various neighborhoods of Sydney with friends (Paddington, Surry Hills, Newtown). I have done some (light) shopping, went to the Silent Disco, attended an art show, and ate delicious food.

Last weekend was Mardi Gras in Sydney, and I did not know that it was one of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations in the world. It was more of gay pride rather than the typical New Orleans Mardi gras.  I went to the parade festivities with some friends and watched above from my friend Rosie’s apartment.

A couple days ago I had to say my goodbyes to Uncle Will and my grandmother. I have been a bit homesick from family and friends, but is exciting making new friends. These past two weeks have been so eventful and I am in the midst of starting a job here and planning a trip up the Coast.

 

Brisbane & Gold Coast

The first two weeks I had in Australia was such an amazing experience. I was very fortunate to travel with my mom and grandparents. We landed in Sydney, quickly dropped off some of my stuff at school, and then began our journey up north to Queensland. Overall the drive was beautiful – mountains, rivers, lakes, and the country side of Australia. It is cheaper to fly domestic in Australia than it is back home, but I would take the 9 hour drive to the Gold Coast over an hour plane ride. It was really cool to see rural Australia. During our drive we also stopped to have a traditional Aussie meals, which included meat pies, tarts and lamingtons. After three days of traveling by plane and driving, I was so relieved when we arrived to the Gold Coast. It was really difficult trying to stay awake because of jetlag, but I made it to 8PM.

Very soon into the trip, we met up/had family over our place. I really only have met my Aunt Maxine and my cousin Nadine, but I was soon greeted by my other amazing relatives who were all so welcoming. Along, with catching up with family I took advantage of where our spot was at on the Gold Coast, by being outside as much as possible. The ocean itself was a bit rough to swim in, so we spent most of our days along the clean and refreshing waters of Tullebudgera Creek (where my grandmother learned to swim). We also had the perfect the celebration with our Aussie relatives for my grandmother’s birthday.

Also, my very good friend Rosie came up to visit me for a weekend at the Gold Coast. I met Rosie fall of 2014 when she studied abroad at UC, and now I am going to her school in Sydney. It was so great to reunite with a friend that you haven’t seen in over a year. We caught up on a lot of things and had a night out on the town!

On one of the last days spent on the Gold Coast, my mom and I went to Currumbin Sanctuary, where all the Australian animals were. As an animal lover myself, that was one of the main things I wanted to do in Australia. And, I was not disappointed one bit during our time in Currumubin. 10/10 would recommend to check out this spot.

The next step in my Australian journey was spent in Brisbane for three days. Brisbane was about an hour drive from the Gold Coast. My mom, Uncle Will, and I explored the city on the first night. It was so clean and lively. We had a nice drink and dinner on Queen Street and then we went on the free ferry ride along the river surrounding Brisbane. It was so pretty to see the whole skyline lit up at night. The next day, we went to South Bank which was incredible to see such nice public pools along the city (something you’d never see in the States). We enjoyed a nice dinner with our friends Debbie and Alex. The next day, we went over to Everton Park, where my mom and her family lived back in 1974-76. And of course, what street did the Dever family live on – Guinness Street. But, it was a really neat experience hearing stories from my mom and my grandparents about when they lived in Everton Park.

After a jammed pack time in Brisbane, my mom, my poppa, and I made our journey back to Sydney. And one thing we learned the hard way, which was to never EVER drive on the Pacific Highway at night. But, we made it safely back to Sydney and I enjoyed my last two nights with them before they went back to Cleveland. The first night we took a bus down to Circular Quay, and then went to an Irish pub (for Poppa of course) down in the Rocks.

As you can tell, I’ve had a great holiday with my family. I am starting my Orientation Week down in Sydney and I am eager to be here on my own and have my own experiences. I can also see another family trip being planned in the future (;

But things I have learned so far in Australia….

Things in Australia

1)            Everyone is active: walking, surfing, running, biking, etc. People are always moving around

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2)            The coffee is to die for: Never paying for Starbucks again

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3)            There are no free refills and drinks all together are expensive: Goodbye beer, hello wine

4)            Don’t underestimate the power of the Australian sun: I learned the hard way

5)            You can only hold koalas in Queensland

 

Preface

Many of you reading this blog probably know my family. One of the things that many people know is how loud and proud we are about being Irish. All of my grandparents are immigrants of the United States, three of them all being from the same county in Ireland. And many of you know that the westside of Cleveland is heavily populated with Irish-Americans. Growing up I was exposed to many Irish traditions and the culture. I’ve traveled to Ireland twice and know all about my family that lives over there. But, many people do not know about my Australian side.

My grandmother Margaret Lachlan was born in Brisbane, a city in the state of Queensland, Australia. She moved to Darwin, Northern Territory Australia as a small child but then had to be evacuated because of the bombings during World War II. She returned to Brisbane, where she started school. My grandmother attended St. Peter’s and Paul’s and Lourdes Hill College. Her first job out of school was working in the Rum Jungle (Darwin) as a secretary for an enterprise company.

My grandfather, Andrew Dever, was from County Mayo, Ireland and worked for an English subcontractor who mined for uranium in the Rum Jungle. My grandparents were introduced to each other at Christmas Eve mass. Months later, Andrew asked Margaret to accompany him to the St. Patrick’s Day ball in the local town. From there, they dated a couple a months and eventually my grandfather proposed to my grandmother.

My grandparents got married in England. They moved around in England (London, Nottingham, and Manchester) for about a year and a half and decided to immigrate to the United States. They moved to Lakewood, Ohio and about 8 children later decided to move back down under in 1974. The Dever children plus one (Uncle Will) lived in Brisbane and attended school there. About two years later, the Dever family moved back to Lakewood and have lived there ever since.

Not many people can say that they lived in another country, and I was always jealous of hearing my mother’s stories of growing up in Australia. But, throughout my life I have not heard much about my Australian family. We constantly have celebrated and talked about our Irish heritage with my family (both my Dever and Coyne side). Do not get me wrong but I am so proud of being Irish, but I was always curious to know more about my Australian side. Like every other 21 year old, I’m trying to figure more of who I am and I got the idea of pursuing my way down to Australia during college because my older cousin Victoria did a couple years ago.

I am so excited to be in Australia. Even though, I am going to school in Sydney, where some of my relatives live, I am excited to meet and catch up with my relatives. I am making my first journey to Australia with my grandparents and my mom. Before I start school, we are visiting family in the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Stay tuned as I will post about my time up in Queensland.