Accommodation, Making friends in the Hall

I chose to live in the Stafford UniLodge during my trimester abroad. I was lucky enough to be on the ninth floor with a bit a view out to the harbor, which made for awesome sun rise and sunset pictures!
The layout of the room is three private bedrooms that share a kitchen/dining/living area and a bathroom. There was nothing terrible about this accommodation, in fact I met my really good group of kiwi friends here! The only cultural oddity I found was the lack of dryers in NZ. Apparently it’s not uncommon to air dry everything so a drying rack was provided as well as bedding and pillow to “hire” (rent).
Unfortunately, there were a few down sides to living in Stafford UniLodge… First, it is at the bottom of a very very long and big hill in order to get to Victoria University Kelburn campus, where most first year classes take place (20 minutes of walking about, unless you walk everywhere and you’re used to large hills). Second, it is a little far from Courtney Place (the main night life street) but there is a free van set up by the university to drive students back to their hall for free!
Overall my experience as a hall resident in New Zealand has been great! I truly suggest to anyone studying abroad here to go to activities offered in the hall to meet kiwis! This hall had many international events at first, but it was hard to truly jump into the culture here when I was only with other exchange students. As soon as floor or hall activities were available I signed up and met a wonderful group of kiwi friends. IMG_3850View from Stafford UniLodgeCooking in the hallA night in with Kiwi friends :)p

Coffs Harbour

 

We arrived in Coffs Harbour that night around 6 PM, oddly the office was closed, so we just rang the bell to check in. After we out our bags in the cabin, we found a good place to eat called the Greenhouse Tavern. Even though it was late, there was nobody in the restaurant part, Dad and I were the only two. As we ate, we watched cricket on the TV. We tried to figure out how to play, but it didn’t really go so well. It was interesting watching a sport that we had no clue at all how to play.

The next morning, we woke up and got ready to head to Sydney. The weather was gloomy but we stuck with some of our plans for the day. We went to the beach and enjoyed the view as we Skyped home. Dad and I then went for a walk on a path near the beach for a little bit. Since it started to rain, we found an indoor attraction called “The Big Banana.” Apparently Australia is known for their big things. All over Australia there are tourist attractions with the name, “The Big _______.” We went to thr famous Big Banana and saw a show that explained how bananas evolved, how it was brought to Coffs Harbour, and how they are grown and packaged. It was very interesting and made me hungry. So we got a chocolate covered banana to share. Of course i was wearing my white jeans and some chocolate got on them, like during a chocolate Seder a few months prior at New Paltz.

We took pictures with the big banana, like the good tourists we were. Then we went shopping for food for breakfast and dad had to buy nuts because he was very far away from Alec, so he went crazy with nuts! We then ate KFC for lunch and were on our way to Sydney. We stopped in Buladelah (or however you spell it) for dinner and to sleep. We ate dinner at the hotel’s certifies restaurant. The worker was so sweet, he greeted ma as a “lovely lady” and pulled my chair out for me as I sat down at the table. Then the owners gave us some tips for Sydney the next day. We ended off the night just relaxing in the hotel room resting up for the next days activities.

Next stop: Sydney

Stay Awesome! <3

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Byron Bay

 

That night after we left Brisbane, Dad and I drove into Byron Bay in time to get some dinner. As always, I couldn’t make a decision so I made Dad make it for me. He made a good decision because we ate at a yummy falafel place that was named “Orgasmic Food: A taste of Mediterranean.” Then on the walk back to the car, we followed our ears to a live band playing outside, with people dancing. The music was great and entertaining, But, after about 10 minutes of watching them, we were too cold, so we went back to the cabin/hotel place, but not too cold to miss Baskin Robins Ice Cream to eat back at the hotel while relaxing.

The next morning, we checked out of the hotel and went into the main town of Byron Bay. Dad and I walked around the town for an hour or so. We went into all the little shop, which were a bit too high end for me. As we walked all through town, we kept a log in the back of our heads of all the places we could eat lunch later. After we walked around, we walked a bit more to the beach. It started to drizzle a bit but that didn’t stop us. I took a walk on the beach with my mom on Skype and just enjoyed the view. I read a little bit of the book I bought, “The Fault in our Stars” before we were hungry enough to eat lunch. Dad and I ate ate lunch on a cute cafe with good music. Dad sang along to the songs so I left and sat at another table, just kidding!! I’m not THAT mean.

Since it was a little gloomy out, we decided to leave town right after lunch. There was a bit of traffic on our way out because of some protesters in the streets with “I stand with Gaza” signs. I thought that was interesting. It showed me that people are passionate toward their specific country or religion everywhere. It showed me that news that I heard about on the other side of the world, was here too. We passed some water on our way out of Byron bay as we drove to Coffs Harbour.

I didn’t mention this before, but the first day in Byron Bay we went to a light house. We saw some pretty views as well as took a tour of the light house. we learned all about Byron Bay light house as well as how light houses work in general. It was very interesting and beautiful.

Next Stop: Coffs Harbour

Stay awesome <3

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Exploring local streets, First day

Sunset from my appartment in Stafford Unilodge

Sunset from my appartment in Stafford Unilodge

I Live near Parliament!

I Live near Parliament!

Yesterday we landed in Wellington around 11 am. I have never met so many friendly people in a CITY before! Luke and I wandered around (with a map of course) and found a local supermarket similar to a Price Chopper back home. As the day went on we found out that the street parallel to us, Lambton Quay, had many shops and places to eat! Clothing here is very expensive ($120 for a simple sweater!) so I am hoping we will find a less expensive shopping area for when we need to buy things. My apartment has two windows that look partly out at the ocean and partly at other buildings but I am thankful I am on the Coast side of the building. I can’t wait to discover more of what this city has to offer! Kiaora!

Brisbane

The next morning after our Cairns adventure, we got up early and went to the airport to fly to Brisbane. It is ironically pronounced Brisbane even though it is spelled like Brisbane. We found that out by listening to all the Australian locals and the flight crew. The flight was relatively quick, about 1 and a half hours  but it spared us 30 hours of driving.

When we arrived in Brisbane, we rented a car at the airport then drove to our hotel in the city if Brisbane. The hotel looked beautiful as we drove up to it. But it wasn’t as great as it looked inside, but it was good enough. It was very windy that day as the pilot had emphasized. After we relaxed in the hotel for a bit, we drove into downtown Brisbane to eat and walk around the shopping center. We planned to go to Springbrook National Park that day, but it wasn’t in the location that Google maps told us (dad was very mad about this and proceeded to say “that is why Google maps is stupid, you should always use mapquest” his passion for this was very entertaining). So, we just walked around the outdoor mall. After, we ate dinner in the mall at this good Mexican place. The outdoor mall was nice. We went to a bunch of stores, but they were high-end stores, so i didn’t buy anything. That part of Brisbane was a hopping place. There were many people, who I assumed to be locals, walking around with friends, family, or just alone. I felt like a local that night. It was a nice change from all the tourist attractions we were going to. Being in the city gave me a little taste of home, the few times I go to NYC. It was also hard to find a parking spot, especially a reasonably priced one. We went around the block many times before we decided to try a parking garage. But we ended up leaving that garage because is was $48 AUD (Australian Dollars) for two hours. Good thing we left because after going around the block a few times the nightly rates came up and we found a parking garage that was $15 AUD for as long as we wanted to stay. The lovely lady who drove us to the airport in Cairns did say that parking in Brisbane was ridiculously expensive. That lady also refused a tip from my dad. I thought that was very kind of her.

We fell asleep that night without dinner since we were both still full from a late lunch. Before we fell asleep, we tried to watch the series finally of 24: Live Another Day, but the internet wouldn’t let us because of the sound and our geographical location. That was very upsetting but I got over it haha.

The next morning we drove to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which was in/near Brisbane. This Koala Sanctuary wasn’t what I was expecting, I don’t remember what I expected to be honest, but it was more like a zoo with a lot of Koalas. I loved it though! The Koala sanctuary was a major tourist attraction and very busy, I was a tourist so I fit right in, Dad and I went to the reptiles, then koalas. We went to the main enclosure for a presentation about a few of the animals they have there. After that presentation, we stayed for an interesting koala presentation which we got to pet and take a picture of us petting the Koala. Koalas are one of the only animals that survive on a certain kind of leaf. when they are born they eat their mom’s poop to build up enzymes to be able to eat that leaf they survive on. This specific type of leaf has low energy so that is the reason that Koalas sleep all the time. Anyway, we also saw birds, reptiles, more koala’s, platypuses, and many other animals including kangaroos. I pet some of them, took selfies with them and just observed them in their natural habitat. After someone with food for the kangaroos left, that same kangaroo came over to me and kept looking up at me waiting for me to give him/her food. It was adorable! But I felt bad that I didn’t have food for it. I saw a kangaroo hop and jump over to people. I even saw a joey pop its legs and head out of his/her mom’s pouch it was so cute that I took a picture!

After we left the Koala Sanctuary, we went to Spring Brook National Park, the correct place this time. As we were driving to it (or in it i don’t really know where it started) it was really hilly and curvy so Dad was having a fun driving up those roads! The first stop was a waterfall lookout. About 100 meters walk from the car was the lookout. It was pretty with mountains and a city in the background. But the falls were wimpy, there wasn’t much water. Maybe I just thought that because I am spoiled with Niagara Falls. We then went to a Canyon lookout which was 10 steps from the car and it was absolutely breathtaking. I just stared at the scenery forever. I couldn’t stop taking pictures too, I was attempting to be artsy with my pictures but I failed. The next lookout we went to wasn’t that great because trees grew in to block the view. But off to the side was a nice view of the sunset in the clouds, my pictures looked like paintings. We ended up passing the last lookout we wanted to see, but we saw plenty of beautiful views that we were satisfied. I had a great time in Brisbane.

Next Stop: Byron Bay

Stay awesome <3

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Can’t wait for Wellington!

Soon I will be leaving the country to study/ live in a place I have never been to. I have planned for this for so long, It doesn’t even seem like I’m about to leave. I can’t wait to see what this mysterious place called Wellington is like. I have such high expectations for this place from all of these pictures and information I have been receiving. I really hoped I packed all of the right clothes and general “college stuff” for a whole semester! Am I the only one who rethinks what they are packing a billion times until they’re literally walking out the door to catch that flight?1468732_10201569212190956_7824797696574242274_n

Great Barrier Reef

7/16/2014

Our first day in Australia was in Cairns. Cairns is on the North East coast of Australia, near the great barrier reef. After we got settled in where we were staying, Dad and I started off with a relaxing trip to the lagoon. If we stayed in the hotel, our sleep schedule would have been way worse from the jet lag, so we decided to go somewhere relaxing and calm to start. The lagoon is a salt water enclosed swimming pool. Since it was winter when we got there the water in the lagoon was pretty cold, also because we ended up getting to the lagoon in the evening. Since it was too cold to swim, we sat on a bench, read our books, and took a few walks around the esplanade. During our walks it was low tide, so if I jumped over the wall we were walking next to there wouldn’t be any water, just wet sand and rocks. The walk continued past 5 PM so we got to see the sunset over the mountains. It was a breathtaking view. We ate at a local restaurant for dinner and went back to our accommodation called Crystal Cascades. It was a cute cabin that had a view of the mountains and palm trees surrounding it. We ended up falling asleep really early (it was early for my family, sometimes at the time we eat dinner!) around 8 PM.

The next morning we woke up early to go on a mini cruise to Green Island. Green island is one of the islands that make up the Great Barrier Reef. Fun fact: it is the only island in the Great Barrier Reef that has a rain forest (according to my Dad’s tour guide). Once we found where to park (it took us about 20 minutes of going in circles) we checked in and took an hour long catamaran ride to Green Island. The ride wasn’t as bad as Dad had anticipated it would be (he had a bad catamaran experience once) but it may have been because we slept most of the ride there so I guess the world may never know how bad it actually was, except the people that were on it too. We got my snorkel gear and waited for the boat to finish docking. I stepped off the boat and didn’t know where to look, (I felt like a dog spinning in circles) it was beautiful 360º.

We first took a walk along the path in the rain forest. We Skyped mom for part of our walk and ended up with this beautiful view, it made my mom jealous (SUCCESS! I made her jealous yayy!!). After that walk, we went back to the boat for a buffet lunch, it actually wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t too exciting either. I left Dad on the boat by himself because I was mad at him. no jk it was because that is where he had to meet in a few minutes to go on the glass bottom boat tour. I went to the beach and just relaxed lying on a towel soaking up the sun and the beautiful views.

When Dad was done with the glass bottom boat tour he found me on the beach and we moved to a less populated area. I put on my Lycra suit and snorkel gear and was ready to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef. As I was going in, I saw my Dad Skype my family back home so they could see how funny I looked in all my gear. As I went into the water, which was a bit cold, it was hard for me to walk with my fins. The first few times I wend underwater it felt weird. I didn’t like feeling as if I couldn’t breathe correctly. But after a few tries and remembering my Dad’s advice, breathe in and out slowly through your mouth only, I got the hang of it. Snorkeling was pretty cool!! I saw some grass and plants at first, I couldn’t go out to far because I started choking after doing something wrong. But it was pretty shallow and I could stand up even pretty far out. On the way back to shore, after I used up all my underwater camera film (of course I used it up), I saw fish for the first time during the snorkeling session. There must have been a few hundred fish swimming together in a long line. It was so cool to just look down and see fish. I was so entertained by them that I just floated in that one spot as they kept swimming back and forth under me. After I was done snorkeling we had been on Green Island for about 5 hours, so it was time to head back to the boat. I took off my Lycra suit near this elderly couple (don’t worry I had a bathing suit on under the Lycra suit) and the man started taking pictures of the ground, (it was a bit weird he should have been taking pictures of his beautiful wife) but then we started to walk towards the boat.

We took the catamaran back to Cairns, we slept most of that ride too. (We sleep a lot, it’s a family tradition to just sleep everywhere, so why not bring that family tradition to Australia?!?) Either that night or the night before, I don’t have the best memory, we took dinner back to the cabin to relax. We ended up walking around the town at night looking in souvenir shops and places to eat. We both conked out between 8 and 9 the second night as well.

Cairns was beautiful! I definitely wouldn’t miss snorkeling in the great barrier reef if I were to come to Australia again. It was an awesome experience with amazing views. It was the place my Study Abroad Adviser back at New Paltz told me not to miss, and I would pass on the same advice. I think it still didn’t sink in that I was in a different country. There are some pictures to prove how beautiful it really was. The pictures don’t do it justice, but its the closest you can come to seeing it and not being in Australia.

Next stop: Brisbane

Thank you for reading!

Stay awesome!! <3

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30 hour trek from USA to Australia

Driving to the airport was….driving to the airport, nothing special. We were there plenty early. On our flight from New York to San Francisco we had a few rude crew members on United Airlines, but on the next flight, San Francisco to Sydney, everyone was super kind and friendly. That flight was also United Airlines so you just never know if you will get someone who just had a bad week. On that second flight, Dad and I made a friend. The way we started talking was cliche, well it would have been cute/cliche if it was a start to a love story, but the guy who worked on the plane bumped into my dad with a food cart. (SPOILER: It was not a start to a love story.)Then we striked up a conversation with him every time he passed by us. This second flight was the longest one, 15 hours. Dad and I got up every few hours to stretch, walk, and let the blood in our legs flow. To everyone who lectured us on doing this, you would be proud. I even woke Dad up a bunch of times to walk. We listened! During one of the stretching sessions, we went behind our seats (we sat in the last row), went to the back of the plane, and met our friend again He was telling us some of the differences between The United States and Australia (One was how in Australia the police enforcement was strict on bar fights, speeding, and other things).

We got served food on the plane. It wasn’t the best quality but that is what I expected. I mean, after all it was free food so who could complain? (I guess it wasn’t free, I mean we did pay for the flight.)

After a layover in Sydney, Dad and I finally got to the destination that would start an amazing trip down the east coast of Australia. That destination was in Cairns, the northeast of Australia, and we arrived there around noon local time. The total time of our trip from New York to Cairns was about 30 hours (including the layovers). It was a long and tiring trek all the way here, but it was definitely worth it!

The better blogs of the scenery and each city is still to come! And get ready to be amazed by pictures! Lots of them!

Thank you for reading!

Stay awesomely beautiful! <3

 

Departure

Before I left, I was really excited to come to Australia. I spent forever planning my trip. I took a detour before arriving at University. That detour took months of planning, but it was well worth it. I traveled along the east coast of Australia for about 10 days with my dad. I will get into my awesome trip in my next blog. The feeling of leaving the United States for longer than a few hours by myself was interesting. It wasn’t scary or nervous, but a weird feeling of the unknown. I didn’t know how I was going to like it, if I would make friends, if my classes would be hard, if I would just sit in my room all day, or if I would love it and want to stay there. But the unknown is what made it exciting. If I didn’t know how it was going to be, then how could I think it was going to be bad.As cliche as this sounds, the hardest part of leaving, was saying, “See you in 8 months” to my friends at New Paltz and “See you in 6 months” to my friends and family back home. I would see my family and friends often, but my summer was cut in half. I didn’t see some friends as much as I wanted to, but I know we will still remain friends. Hugging my immediate family bye was the hardest, especially my Mom; I didn’t want to see her cry because of me. But I knew the experience would be worth it. Anybody even slightly thinking about Studying abroad for any amount of time, I say go for it! Or at least look into it, because it could change your life.

Update

So my “Spring Break” is over but it wasn’t as fun as I hoped it to be. First I don’t know why everyone considers it a spring break because I still had classes, review sessions and exams during the time period. I also decided to stay during my break because I found a job. After I worked there for two weeks I got to work and there was a sign on the door stating” This Property has been seized by the leasing agent for not following the terms of the lease. If anyone tries to enter this property without direct supervision of someone from the leasing agency they will be arrested and charged with trespassing”. AKA They didn’t pay the rent so the place got closed. Not only did I not have a job the owner owed me 400 dollars and he nor his wife is answering any employee calls. I not only did not get paid but I gave up traveling for spring break. I did how ever go kayaking in the Sydney Harbor, and spent time with friends, which was fun. I am currently in the process of getting another job in Moore Park as waiter. It is a high class restaurant and since I haven’t really done any waiting  before It will be hard to keep the job. But I’m sure I will be able to manage. I only have two months before I go back to the states so I have to appreciate the rest of my time here! Check out the photos that I took on the way to Kayaking!