‘We hope you find something you love’

Clouds consume the day sky most days, a steady stream of rain pouring down on unprepared walkers. The summer leaves have accepted their fate, and lie unchanging on the cement streets. The wind continuously blows, ruining perfectly pinned-up hair, and the sun’s warmth kindly reminds us that summer once was. The changing of seasons has been a prolonged, anticipated moment that seemed to happen in a blink of an eye. The climate, atmosphere, and weather have changed here, reminding me that I too have changed.

I have changed in many ways since being in Australia. I have become comfortable with who I am, I have a confidence in my voice and, I am more determined than ever. But, something happened to me that I could not foresee. I thought coming here would help me narrow my focuses and passions. I thought I would go back to the States and know exactly what I was going to do after I graduated. However, I don’t have that and control is just an illusion.

I have become assimilated with a culture that is less work driven and more passion driven. Through my experiences here, I have come to realize that I am interested in many different things and there is no need for me to limit my interests and narrow my views; I want to connect with people, educate, and create change. I thought I had to follow a straight line in order to do this, I thought I needed to have an end goal-in many ways I do, I want to be a doctor-but I don’t need to follow a path so many have taken before me, I don’t need to follow a path that doesn’t embrace every interest I have.

This realization really hit me when I began running my own speaking group at Victoria University. I was fortunate enough to meet one of the directors, Carla (she is such an amazing, vibrant woman and I’m so thankful for her kindness and enthusiasm), and have her fully embrace my desire to help ESL students. Through speaking with students, I have been able to see the world through their eyes, and have opened myself up to numerous cultural traditions, beliefs, and values. I have walked away so many times excited to share what I learned from my students during one of our sessions. I want to keep educating others, and sharing the knowledge I learn from them; it’s a two way street, and a relationship that facilitates change.

Australia will always hold a special place in my heart, a place where I will go back to when I feel discouraged, lost, confused, at peace or happy. The first day I got here, I saw a sign that said “we hope you find something you love.” That saying has stuck with me this whole trip, something I repeated to myself throughout each day-find something you love. Here, in Melbourne, I found many things I love, and they’re the driving forces that motivate me to create change and inspire others to create change of their own.

Thank you Australia, and thank you everyone who has been a part of this journey.

Good-byes.

There’s a false sense of security you have when you leave for 6 months. You purpose this idea that the live’s of those back home remain the same, stop, and plateau. It’s a safety blanket that keeps you from thinking about the potentiality of you missing out on something. But of course, you’re abroad and nothing back home could possibly compare to everything you are experiencing in another country. That safety blanket is lie, because everyone (life) is changing, growing and evolving back home. Though you may feel like a completely different person now, as may the people back home. Time does not stop, nor do the people that we involve ourselves with. The safety blanket is a protective factor that can easily be stripped from you when you least expect it.

~

Yesterday, I found out my grandma passed away. Her death was drawn out, yet quick. She has wanted to leave us since the day my grandfather passed away; you could see that in her face, mannerisms, and in her soft-spoken words. Before I left for Australia, she said good-bye to me like I would never see her again. Walking away from her with a chill running down my spine, I also knew that was the last time I was going to see her; a silent acknowledgement. No one in my family was especially ready to say good-bye to someone they loved so dearly, but we all knew it was time.

Across the globe, I cannot be with my family, I cannot be a part of their grieving, and they cannot be a part of mine. We are just voices over a device. We’re detached from each other, and I’m especially detached from the reality of the situation. I imagine, and envision situations my family is in but I do not know the actuality of the hours planning a funeral, saying final good-bye to her.

Across the globe, I grieve; caught in-between feeling alone, and knowing I have all the support I need. I wish I could say my final good-byes to my grandmother, I wish so badly I could be at her funeral surrounded by loved ones. I feel guilty that I left knowing she was in bad health, but I know that feeling will pass. My grandmother was proud of me, and was so excited for me to finally travel to Australia ( a life long dream).  I know that somewhere my grandma is at peace, perhaps with my grandfather. It is in that comfort of thinking she is somewhere lovely, and with my grandpa that will get me through.

I love you, grandma.

Blue Mountain

 

During my Autumn break, my roommate and I spent two days in the blue mountains. Completely engulfed by greens, and hues of blue, we gazed with widened eyes at the mountain ranges that carried for ages. Our minds grew quiet, and our body’s still. Just like the Great Ocean Road, there was an enchanting, memorizing air to the blue mountains. As we began our first hike, smiles were planted on our faces, and giddiness boiling out of every pore. We tested our determination within the blue mountains, hiking up and down 922 steps on 90 degree angle. Least to say, going up and down that many steps, really pushes your body to its last drop of endurance.

The following morning, Alex (roommate) and I got up to watch the sunrise over the mountains. Racing down to the trails, we ignored the cold that was penetrating our skin, and sending chills down our spines. As we arrived at our destination, the sun was just beginning to peak over the far mountains; pinks, oranges, blues, reds, covered the sky and painted the mountains. We jumped over a fence and sat on the edge of rock, watching and listening. Below us, hundreds of birds were calling for mates, crickets were still chirping in the darkness that hesitated to leave, and the hush sound of trees swayed in the passive wind. I closed my eyes, and I began to pray. An act I rarely do, nor find significance in. In that moment, I began to talk to a God I didn’t believe in, and I found meaning in the words that fluttered in my mind. I talked about my gratitude, and how this trip as changed so much for me. I thanked that God over and over again for letting me be here, and experience such beauty. I felt complacent sitting on that rock, embracing the warmth of the sun that was now emerging from the mountains. Rejuvenated, and wary about my rekindled relationship with a God/Creator/Higher Power/Universe, I inhaled the crisp morning air, and continued on my hike.

~

So, the blue mountains were another spiritual experience I had but least to say, being there was amazing and I recommend anyone traveling to Sydney to take a trip out there for a couple of days!

Foots-crazy (cray)

Today marks a week since I landed at Melbourne airport, and it feels like I’ve been here for months; time is an illusion here.

When I first arrived at my apartment complex, I was taken back by my overwhelming, and relentless anxiety. I was alone, and surrounded in an suburban area, plagued with graffiti; I felt uncomfortable, and dying to be near the beach or the city. I learned too quickly that the drug culture is immense here, and something different from that of New York’s. Where I live Aussies call “Foots-crazy”, instead of “Footscray”. And, I should be careful about walking at night. My initial reactions of this place were something that never crossed my mind when I daydreamed of Australia. I felt an underlining disappointed because Australia seemed like it was nothing like I wanted it to be.

But like I said, time is an illusion here. My initial reactions subsided as fast as they clouded my every thought. I now love it here, I love that just down the road there is a beautiful park that runs along a river, with the city skyline in clear view. I like how I’ve mastered public transportation, and can now get anywhere in Melbourne quiet easily. I love that after a hectic day at the city or beach, I can come back home to my familiar “suburban life”, and feel at ease. There’s a comfort in being surrounded by houses, that look so different from any I have ever seen ( especially when you live on the 12th floor). There’s an independence I’ve gained by finding the hidden gems in my area: incredible brekkie places, and quaint bars. I like the friends I’ve made here, and the many more I keep meeting; I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Australia has been a dream, that was all it was, a dream. I fantasized what it was going to be like, and there was no ounce of reality in those dreams. But now, Australia is a reality, and I’m so happy it’s not what I’ve dreamt about. It’s different in ways I would have never expected like understanding most conversations here. Would you believe me when I say there is more of a culture shock here than you would expect? Because there is, and it starts with the slang. Not only is almost every word abbreviated, but one word can have five different meanings. It’s endearing, and confusing, and I feel out of my element. I’m learning slowly what things mean, and incorporating the words I like into my every day vocabulary. But I’m just getting started, and I’ve already fallen in love with Aussie culture.

 

With love,

Brianne

I’m just living.

Yesterday I finally left to embark on one of the biggest adventures of my life, but not without out a week long stop in San Diego, California.

As I boarded the plane and said my final goodbyes to my dad and boyfriend, I felt no ounce of sadness in me. Yeah, I’m leaving my family and boyfriend for six months, but it’s hard for me to be upset when I’ve worked so hard for this. This is what I’ve wanted since I was little; this has been what I daydream about. I boarded the plane, and I was off, not looking back, and wishing to dear god I would actually sleep the whole flight to California. Fortunately, I slept. I actually slept a lot, with the quiet humming of the man snoring next to me. The flight was filled with laughter, inexperienced fliers, and lots of screaming children, but I didn’t care. I was half dazed from my slumber, and full of anxiety filled excitement.

The anxiety started hitting me on that flight. I became worried that I wasn’t ready for this adventure, that I would miss having the normalcy and security I had back home. I thought about the security of having a routine, and knowing that routine like the back of my hand. Right now, I have no routine; I do not know what to expect. I thought about this for awhile, and the anxiety grew. The plane landed, and I was brought back to reality from the bustle of people too eagerly trying to leave the plane.

The heat hit me, the sun burned my eyes, and I realized how ill dressed I was for San Diego weather; I was wearing a scarf, jacket, and pants. A smile swept over my face, filling me with ease. I felt at home, like I always do when I visit San Diego. I saw the familiar face of my older brother, and more anxiety dissipated from my body. The anxiety I was building up on the plane was now subsiding, I began to realize “wow, this is it. I’m doing this, hell yeah!”

All my fears seem so small now. I can do this, I know I can do this, I’ve always known I could do this. I’ll have a routine again in Australia, and I’ll have normalcy. But for now, I’m going to enjoy not knowing what each day holds. Today, I’m sitting outside at a cafe drinking a cold brew coffee, and writing this post. The sun is shining, the air smells like a mix of flowers and coffee, and people are conversing everywhere. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll go for a hike, or explore more of downtown San Diego? I don’t know what each day holds, and that’s the best part about this trip; I’m allowing myself to be free and open to each experience I have.

 

 

With love,

Brianne

 

 

14 days

As the title indicates – I am in the homestretch. There are a few things I am feeling right now that I figured might be good to share.

Right now – I’m studying for my last final exam (biology, ugh) which is in a few days. I will be beyond relieved to have that be done and over with. Finals are finals no matter where you are. I think my over all experience regarding the university here has been good. I do not anticipate my final grades being anything too amazing unfortunately. I’ve never tested well. I am a bit worried about how the grades translate back over to New Paltz, and my GPA. I like it where it is currently haha.

Other than academically – I have not really done too much travelling or exploring in a while. I have been too busy studying, and I am running out of money rapidly in this expensive country. The last thing I did was go to a place called “Lakes Entrance” which was amazing. I went koala spotting and ran into this giant field of wild kangaroo – cautiously approached one and got growled at. It was exhilarating.

I was asked to fill out a study abroad survey yesterday by my adviser which triggered me to start reflecting about my time here. A lot of my responses were uneventful, and unenthusiastic. Don’t get me wrong – this experience has been one I will hold dear to me for the rest of my life, but I guess I have been a bit closed off for a lot of the time and therefore it probably definitely was not all it could have been, had I been more open and active. This is something I do even back home, and at New Paltz too. Upon coming here, I remember feeling very nervous that I would be too homesick to function while I was here. However, though I of course had moments of homesickness – it was not actually a huge issue. I was most generally focused on being here in the moment and whatever I was doing at the time. I didnt give myself much time to reflect on the concept of home being so far away etc.

With that being said – once I reached the one month away from going home mark a few weeks ago I started getting excited at the thought of it. Being reunited with everyone I love, and places I have missed. Food. FOOD. Now that the time is even closer and closer and closer as days pass.. my excitement is dwindling, and my anxiety is raising. I cant put words to why I could be “scared” to leave, or go home. The best I can do is to say that it’s not like I can just come back anytime I want.. it’s not a weekend trip or a quick getaway – its Australia. Travel 24+ hours to get here/ $2000 ticket,  Australia. I know someday I’ll make it back here, but it’s sad to think how long it might be. I am honored to have lived an extraordinary life already before I’m even 21 years old. A life most people I know could only dream of, in many aspects.

Hypothetically even if I took nothing from my experience here in Oz and hated the entire thing and never wanted to come back again (which is all false) – I would still be able to say that during my 5 months here I learned more about myself then I probably could have in 5 years back home. The most important of which involving my independence. I thought I was independent before I’d come here – but I was so held back by fear of change. Being away from home, the people in my life, my comfort zone. Now I know I am able to live without those things for a while and still be a functioning happy human being. And I am a better me now for having learned that.

I will depart in 14 days from Melbourne International Airport and fly 15 long hours to LA and then eventually 9 more hours to JFK and then another hour to Syracuse where my family will await me. I am coping with the thought of having to cope when I get there, and having trouble doing so. I am worried for my future self a bit. I know some friends who have had a dark spot after returning from study abroad. I’ll get through though.

Lastly – I am less than excited about going back to being under the legal drinking age, and shitty american beer. VB 4 lyfe.

14 days.

 

30 days left

Today marks my final day of classes here in Australia as well as the one month marker before I head back to the states. This weekend we have a trip planned down to a place called Lakes Entrance for about 3 days. I hope to get in some more adventures before it is time to go – but I have to study for my last 2 finals as well. My status here is basically the same – hanging out and doing fun things or just relaxing at home. The days are going by incredibly fast and slow at the same time. Though I do not feel homesick, I do feel conflicted that I am ready to go back home – and conflicted that once I am home I will be ready to come back here.

I will do my best to update soon with some fun photos from this weekend!

Days go By.

I haven’t had time to blog in quite some time it seems like – since Easter. As of today I have only 50 days left in Australia..

This reality is one I do not know how I feel about. Of course I am excited to see my family and friends again, and get back to New Paltz. But its a weird feeling to think about leaving this place. I feel like I have made a life here, and in 50 days time I will be up and leaving it. I have a routine, I am used to the door handles being higher, and the toilet water spinning the opposite way. When I wake up in the middle of the night I do not wonder where I am. I do not have any stress here. Classes are easier, people are more easy going. Life is better. The best way I can think of coping with my leaving is by taking it all with me. For instance, when I leave for New Paltz after each summer, and then I go back home to my close minded conservative town – I always initially feel completely lost as they just do not get it. That there is a life out there, not far from home. That there is so much more. By the end of the summers I usually feel like I have fallen back into suit with how I had always grown up there. Accepted peoples idiocies, while they spoke mindless babble. With that being said, I wont do that this time. Considering I feel different returning to my hometown after just being in New Paltz, returning after an experience like this will be extreme to say the least. I will not let myself forget what I felt like to be here, out in the world. I will keep this all with me. -> which is regrettably why I have bought an obscene amount of souvenirs that I will have to buy an extra suitcase for.

So yes. Of course I am excited to go home. I will remain excited to go home until I see everyone for a little while, and see nothing has changed, because it never does. Once the excitement dies down, there comes the feeling that I will undeniably regret having left here – the feeling that I will want to come back – and the feeling that I might not be able to in any reasonable time span. Australia is not exactly a location that you can just fly to for a weekend to visit, and maybe thats the hardest thing. My experiences here have unforgettable to say the least. I have already started trying to convince my Mom to save up and come here for a family vacation in a few years.

APART from the sobby stuff..classes are over in two more weeks. Which is so exciting. I am really content with complaining about the one paper I have to write versus the 5 + 3 massive Art Projects I would have during this time at New Paltz. Academically my time has been smooth here. I’ve gotten A’s on nearly every assignment and test besides some math ones…because face it, it is not my strong suit. I hope I do not jinx my finals by saying that – but I am anticipating a good outcome.

APART from academics – I’ve been trying to travel around once a week to a haunted location to check it out. Just because thats too fun. Last week or two weeks ago? I visited a mental asylum that had been abandoned and completely and utterly vandalized and gutted. However – it was really creepy still. There was beautiful graffiti art blanketing the walls in every corner of the building, floor boards missing, no lights apart from what poured in through the busted out windows. It was a truly amazing time. Besides that – as you can see from my photo above, I played with some Kangaroo. And yes, they were as amazing as you probably think they would be. Probably twice that. Plus – who actually gets a selfie like that one. I did not expect it to come out that way. What a photogenic and cooperative Roo he was. Here is one photo from the asylum which is particularly creeptastic – Enjoy. Laurundel

I guess that is about all I have to share right about now..

50 days.

-Mariah

 

Easter on the Great Barrier Reef

Greetings!

This mid semester break was well spent up in Queensland! I did various amazing things during my 5 night stay in Cairns but the most amazing and memorable thing was my day trip to Green Island where I spent Easter Sunday in the water snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. This experience was one I will hold with me forever. The amazing marine life had me completely speechless. The best way I could describe it to my family was that I hungout with the cast of “Finding Nemo” all day on Easter. I was fortunate enough to see thousands of fish, a green sea turtle, a reef shark, a sting ray, giant sea clams, and of course Nemo himself. I had become infatuated with the wildlife very quickly and spent practically the entire day laying on the top of the ocean as these creatures casually went about their daily routines and allowed me to spectate.

The oceans in Cairns had signs all over warning people about the dangerous Irukandji that may be present in the waters. These are really small jellyfish (aka “stingers”) – about the size of the red tip on a match – and they are deadly. Thankfully even if there were any in the part I was swimming in – my wet suit protected me from any possible stings.

Nothing I saw in the water particularly scared me – as I saw no Crocodiles (aka “Salties”) or anything else particularly aggressive. I did have a momentary second of ‘holy crap’ when I saw a bit of crocodile shaped coral a few meters away from me. Whew. Close to the end of my day on Green Island I was paddling into shore through the reef when I saw a really long something in the sand on the bottom. I finally got to the head and saw that it was a snake. My first actual wild snake sighting so far in Australia. I am not particularly scared of snakes – but I was not hanging around to examine this huge mean looking guy. I kicked pretty hard to shore after that – someone told me later on that the snakes are not commonly seen in the reef where people are usually populating the water to snorkle – and it was a good thing I got out of there because they are generally not the most harmless guys.

About a block from my hotel were these incredible mango trees – and as if that wasnt cool enough – in the trees lived THOUSANDS, not exaggerating, THOUSANDS, of flying foxes. Each evening around 6:30 pm they would all leave the mango trees in search for some dinner. They would absolutely swarm the skies above and it was an unfathomable thing to watch happen each night.

I have seemed to develop a bit of a souvenir addiction while I have been travelling around. I see really cool native Australian things or hand made goods and I cant help myself. I have spent an unreasonable amount of money on souvenirs. I am grounding myself officially from souvenir shopping for the rest of my time. I am ridiculous.

I am back to Melbourne as of today. I have a few more days of break before classes begin again. Midterm week. Im not too stressed. I have reached my halfway marker here I believe. I dont know how I feel about that.

Thats all for now!! Thanks.

 

Week 3 – Adventures on The Great Ocean Road

Hi everyone!!!

The second week of Uni is underway here at Victoria University. Today is Monday – and I am trying to recuperate from the insane weekend that I just had. On Friday after classes – I set off on my journey to spend the weekend in Warrnambool via the famous Great Ocean Road.  The first day of driving was encompassed around actually getting to Great Ocean Road. Toward the late afternoon, we began winding up and down – left and right on the amazing endless coast line. We got out to stretch our legs a few times at some really stunning surf beaches where I was able to search for shells and beautiful little creatures, like starfish, in the withered rock beds near to shore. I collected some small shells and rocks with the intention of making some homemade souvenirs out of them for friends and family back home. I think that those types of gifts- with a story, location, and sentiment are better than any gift shop ball cap with an embroidered Kangaroo. We stopped at our half way point in Apollo Bay Friday night where I had Shark for dinner!! It was so good! It kind of blew my mind, even though its very common, and not unheard of. Before bed – I went for a really long walk on the beach while the sun set and the waves crashed. I can feel myself falling in love with the Ocean every time I am near it. Though I have loved my time here so far, it has become a bit overwhelming at times to be in a new place where the culture is different, and you dont know anyone really. That single walk on the beach in Apollo Bay seemed to put everything into perspective for me, I was able to gather my thoughts, clear my head, and breath. We ended up staying for the night in this pretty decent and cheap youth hostel. Bunk beds, a living room, and people from around the world you do not know. It was a cool experience.

Day two – On the road againnnn. The stops we made were to some really amazing village market type gatherings – with amazing handmade things, cool music, and good people. We also stopped off G.O.R to this massive amazing rain forest where we did a hike around a few trails and saw some cool things. The highlight of Great Ocean Road – was finally reaching the Twelve Apostles – as well as the other breathtaking coastlines near it. We stopped off in every spot we could – I took about 1,000 photos – not exaggerating. The blue of the ocean. That was what made each spot so mind blowing to me. The contrasts of the water and the rocks that had been withered away to stand on their own. The enormity of them…It was a day full of things I could not believe I was seeing with my own two eyes. A day full of awe, and pure joy – that I decided to take this step and study abroad. My time here is going by quickly..

Once in Warrnambool – we went to some cool restaurants – and also hiked a volcano – and a beautiful gorge, before driving the 5 hours back to Melbourne.

I could talk endlessly about this experience – and the words would not actually compare. Just as these amazing beautiful photos – incredibly do the reality no justice.

This weekend I have tickets for Cirque Du Solei.. so excited

I dont even know if anyone reads these… But its cool to share.IMG_0967 SAM_1499 SAM_1489 SAM_1486  SAM_1445SAM_1460