Jacqueline Klimek – University of Sydney
Everyone talks about stepping out of there comfort zone. I decided to stop talking about it and start doing it. So for the first time, I decided to take a vacation by myself. Through some careful planning and budgeting, my spring break was set; Brisbane, Australia Zoo, Noosa, Fraser Island, Mooloolaba and Palm Beach. Traveling by yourself forces you to meet new people, something that I am not necessarily great at and scares me a bit. But what I quickly learned is that people are amazing, from my cabbie who gave me a tour of Brisbane as we left the airport, to the understanding smiles from other travellers as I sprinted to catch the bus (and I did make it!). There were two specific instances that made my trip and that I will remember for years to come. The first was at the Australia Zoo- Home of the Crocodile Hunter. (Side note- Steve Irwin is an absolute legend and it was incredible to experience a day here). As I got off the bus with all my gear in hand I bumped into two other people traveling by themselves; Christophe an engineer from Germany and Thomas a teacher from New Zealand. We quickly became friends over breakfast where we talked about our favourite parts of our travels so far, differences in cultures, and our dreams and aspirations. I learned that it was surprisingly easy to open up and talk to new people. The second instance was in Noosa as I was eating dinner. Two adorable old couples were sitting next to me and we started to talk about my travels, what brought me to Australia, where I hope to go and so much more. This continued for over a 30 minutes and as I was leaving the older gentleman said to me, “The dad in me is coming out, be careful as you travel but I am proud of what you’ve do so far and where you are going. You are going to do great things”. The biggest smile crept onto my face and my faith in humanity was restored. People are good and do generally care about each other. Experiences like this continued throughout the rest of my travels. I realised that once I opened up, so did other people and it be as easy as just smiling to another person.
Sydney Staudt – Flinders University
I am a terrific traveller because I don’t let the fact that other people are staying home or doing other things keep me from doing the things that I want to do. I bought tickets to go to the South Australia Winter Food and Wine Festival with a friend, but she had accidently double-booked that day and ended up choosing the other event. She was later surprised to hear that I went anyway; I went alone and made friends at the venue! The first day nice enough to go to the beach, I went. I wasted a couple hours trying to find people to go with me, but when no one wanted to go, I went by myself, and I ended up meeting old friends there! I am studying abroad, and I don’t want my experiences and my memories to always be dependent on someone else. I will try to coordinate tours so that others go with me, but I will go by myself rather than sit at home, as evidenced by my solo weekend tour to Flinders Ranges. I may never get the opportunity to travel and have free time like this again, and I want to spend my time actively doing things and being a terrific traveller, not passively relying on others.
Gianna Pagnelli – University of Melbourne
Arriving in Sydney on the IFSA-Butler program first sparked my interest in travelling in and around Australia. I constantly found myself wanting to explore side streets and find the city’s hidden gems. Upon moving into my college in Melbourne, I was quick to delve into the city’s little wonders, following the seemingly odd advice of locals: “if you find a dark, graffitied alley, follow it.” After claiming the city as my own, I decided it was time to see more of Victoria. This began with a simple trip to the Dandenong Mountain range. Soon after, I attended surf camp on Phillip Island, experiencing the pristine, rocky beaches and seeking out wild wallabies and even wilder views. After returning home, a trip to see the infamous boxes of Brighton Beach was necessary. A few weeks later, some friends and I jetted off to Queensland to take in the warm weather, beaches, and crazy clubs of Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast. Needing something a bit calmer and a good dose of nature, I decided on a Wednesday night to hop on a Saturday morning to flight to Tasmania. Knowing absolutely nothing about the island except for anecdotes from friends in classes, two friends and I set off for an unreal weekend climbing Mount Wellington, seeing a bizarre museum, and having an adventure through the rainforest with a German guy we met in our hostel. After a few weeks of recovery from our unexpected weekend of surreal views and incredible company, midterm break rolled around and Bali, Indonesia was calling. After arriving in Canggu with fourteen friends, we spent the week travelling the island, doing everything from rafting, elephant riding, and snorkelling. However the highlight of then trip had to be the hike up an active volcano (Mount Batur) at 3:00am to watch the sunrise and feed wild monkeys. This weekend, with only two months left in Australia, I’ll be driving up the Great Ocean Road with my best friends and begin planning the rest of my trips for the semester. I’m incredibly fortunate to be staying for an extra month, in which I am hoping to see the Great Barrier Reef, Western Australia, and finishing my trip travelling around New Zealand. This semester has granted me so many opportunities to see a part of the world that I’d never even imagined experiencing and I know I’ll have a very serious case of wanderlust for years to come.
Jerry Ho – University of Adelaide
Study Abroad: the prized memory of the college experience or the popular subject of the common phrase, “I wish I went to study abroad” In a single decision to apply to study in Australia, I knew I would be enveloped by an unforgettable experience. With the least bit of research completed, I was dropped into Sydney, Australia for orientation to this amazing privilege. With four months in Adelaide, Australia ahead of me, a few weeks of mid-semester break, I knew I would be addicted to this disillusioned, adrenaline filled spirit to travel.
Engaging socially with many other study abroad and exchange students I was presented with the opportunity to travel to both Bali, the East Coast of Australia, as well as Darwin within a twenty day span. Within hours of landing in Bali, I am immersed in absolutely dumbfounding sights. Majestic is the perfect adjective for the sunrise on Mt. Batur. Harmony describes the untouched beauty of Lombok beaches adjacent to vibrant green hills and valleys.
Within a single twenty-four hour period, I became a dandelion seed wavering in the wind. I am on every form of transportation known to man. I teleport from Indonesia to Brisbane, Australia at a rate only second to the speed of light. I bike to watch the sunset at the edge of Gili Trawangan, walk with my small dufflebag to ride the ferry back to Padang Bai, ride a taxi to Kuta Bali, ride another taxi to the airport, fly out to Brisbane, ride a train and bus to Surfer’s Paradise, and finally aboard the WickedCampervan that fits ten passengers with two tents on the roof.
The euphoria persisted through to the Whitsunday Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Zen filled sound of waterfalls at Litchfield National Park in Darwin. Arriving back in Adelaide Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM, the 6th of October, I rushed to my classes from 9 AM – 7 PM. I juiced every second of the break to live life to the fullest. I am absolutely in love with traveling. I have a parasitic travel bug in my blood.
Michael Glennon – University of Melbourne
Coming to Melbourne has been the catalyst I needed to work on my ‘Bucket List’ – Live in every continent! While here in Australia I have taken advantage of trains, planes and everything in between to see some of the most beautiful sights this part of the world has to offer! I had a drink among friends admiring the Sydney skyline at the 360 Club, hiked along the majestic Blue Mountains and driven 10 straight hours along the most breathtaking road trip – the Great Ocean Road! Despite all this, my most memorable trip was a week long excursion to Indonesia. When I thought that a trip to Australia would change my perspective, I had no idea how intense a change in culture could be until I reached Bali! Never in my life have I been in such a welcoming environment. The beautiful beached of Gili Trawagan along with unforgettable diving left an impression on me that really helped me truly appreciate the world around us! Of all the experiences I’ve had this semester, travel is the one that truly ‘widened my horizons’.
Nadine Taghian – University of Melbourne
Australia is a place I have always wanted to travel to. I have always thought of myself as a traveler because I when I was younger i was able to travel all through Europe, but that was not enough for me. I wanted to see the world so I decided to go abroad for a semester as far from home as possible. Since being in Australia I have been able to see many beautiful cities. I have seen Sydney and have fallen in love when the Opera house. In Melbourne we have explored this city from bottom to top. We were lucky to spend a fantastic weekend in Phillip Island to watch the penguins march at sunset. I spent mid-semester break with my best friends from Melbourne up in Port Douglas. We went to decided we wanted to see all of what Queensland has to offer so we road tripped the coast of Queensland from Port Douglas down to the Whitsundays and back. We got to see all the different terrains and realized that everything was way more spread out than we thought. Though those are the only places I have been to this date, we have tickets booked to Christchurch, New Zealand and are road tripping the coast of the south island of New Zealand until we get to Queenstown. We also have plans to road trip the Great Ocean Road, travel to Tasmania, explore Thailand, and venture through the outback of Western Australia. I have found that road tripping is the best way to see everything I want to see. There are so many beautiful sites you see when road tripping because when you are in the car for a long time the terrains changes and you gain an even greater appreciation of a new place because you see things you don’t expect to see.
Madeline Medkeff – Griffith University, Gold Coast
I was lucky enough to travel to Bali, Indonesia for Spring break with a three other incredible girls. I had no idea what to expect before heading out on my journey as I have never been to any Asian countries and I was a nervous wreck. I was worried I would stand out with my height; would my phone work; would we be safe on this island? However, looking back on my time spent in Bali I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Indonesia I was surrounded by the spiritual and deeply religious culture of the Balinese people. I am very religious myself and wanted to learn more about these people’s customs and values. I was taken aback by the kindness and respect from every Indonesian person I met, from the hotel staff to the taxi drivers. I remember one of our tour guides said that their culture believes deeply in Karma, they believe by doing something good for others, they will receive the same in return. I took that lesson to heart. One of my favourite events I experienced was going to the rice fields. My father told me that when he served in the Vietnam War, he marched through tons of them and how beautiful they were. I was glad I was able to see and appreciate them firsthand, because it made me feel as if he was with me at that moment. Over all, my entire trip to Bali was more than just laying around at the hotel pool, but a cultural, and amazing experience I will always treasure.
Cory Kapeller – Griffith University, Gold Coast
Quick catnap in Thailand.