Road Trippin’

This week has without doubt been the highlight of my visit so far, me and four friends booked a hire car and set off on a long weekend along the Great Ocean Road, and my god it was incredible. I’m not sure if I am going to be able to do the trip any justice by putting it into words as even the pictures don’t capture half the beauty but I will give it a go.

We met the Great Ocean Road at Torquay, where Becky had her first swim at Bell’s Beach (if there’s water, she’s in it), we are planning on going back there for the surfing competition later in the year. Next stop was the lighthouse at Aireys Inlet lighthouse where we saw our first Penguin down on the beach! The Animal theme carried onto Kennett River for the Koala’s but it turns out that once you’ve seen one Koala, you’ve seen them all, all they do is sleep. A sighting that was less planned however, was a family of Kangaroos along the side of the road, which was when Keegan thought it would be a brilliant idea to open the car door and try and get out before we had stopped, this was a habit we had to try stop throughout the whole trip. Friday night we stopped over in a brilliant hostel in Apollo Bay called Surfside Backpackers (Highly recommend and only $30 each) but I think it was the Saturday that was the highlight of everyone’s trip.

The biggest tip we learnt on this trip was that you should stop off at every ‘scenic view point’ because these are the secluded places not bursting with thousands tourists and actually are more beautiful than the main tourist spots along the GOR. One of our favourite stops was Castle Cove where we found a little trail down onto the beach, and I thought I had seen beautiful beaches but this was next level breath-taking! (It took some persuading but we managed to stop Becky trying to swim in the 6ft waves with insane currents.) The only other stop that compared to that was the final detour on Saturday night that Gus insisted on going to see and thank God he did! It was a thin section of cliff jutting out into the ocean with the most incredible view, without sounding mega cringe, we all said that being on that cliff edge was the freest we had ever felt.

At this point we were going to head towards our accommodation for the night but on the way back we bumped into a group of travelling New Zealanders who we had met at an earlier detour, they were setting up camp and invited us to join them in watching the sun set. Of course we were never going to decline such a brilliant offer so we went, bought beers, snacks and had the most surreal sunset experience of our lives.

Yes we visited the 12 Apostles, Loch ard Gorge and all the other ‘must sees’ but as much as they were gorgeous, being surrounded by groups of tourists diminished their impact somewhat. The appreciation you gain for the quiet, ‘unpopular’ places is unparalleled.

Our final day consisted of the Otway national park where we went on small hikes to stunning waterfalls which is not what you would expect from Australia in drought! The rain-forests were so lush but again we were lucky with our timing because for the most of it we had the waterfalls to ourselves and as we were leaving so many people were arriving. I think its safe to say we had a really special and lucky trip (apart from almost hitting a Kangaroo whilst driving in the dark, which actually made us stop so Sophie could cool off but we got to see the stars, so silver lining!).

I am truly grateful for this road-trip and the people I was with, it was an experience none of us wanted to end and its going to take a tough time beating it. The Great Ocean Road is different for every person who takes it but the only advise I would give is to not just go on a tour bus because you miss out on the true beauty of the coast.

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Party, Party, Party

This was our last week before classes start and I can safely say we used that excuse to its full.

We went on a Study Abroad ‘scavenger hunt’ around the city (purely on the basis of a promised bar crawl at the end), so obviously once we realised our group wasn’t going to be the winners of the hunt, and everyone had had enough of walking around the city, we packed that in and headed to a bar called Asian Beer Cafe. We quickly decided we had made the right choice with happy ‘hour’ being from 4-8pm and pitchers of beer -what more could you want? This night quickly turned into a much bigger one than we expected… We went to the next bar, at which I was taught a rather questionable Irish jig from someone I am pretty sure was definitely not Irish. A few of us then headed up to an apartment party on South bank with the most incredible views of the whole city! We danced and drank and were all having hella fun and wanted to carry on partying so headed to my old flat mate’s housewarming party – unfortunately by the time we got there they were shutting down but there were enough of us that we started it up again – night only slightly dampened by Becky deciding to forget her phone, passport and purse back at the apartment party…

This week was Orientation Week on campus so they were advertising their sports clubs etc but more importantly giving out free food, so that is where we got our lunch from all week. On one of the days they also had a ‘petting zoo’ which is not where you got cuddle puppies as I thought, but instead handlers just coming up to you and placing snakes around your neck – weirdest sensation ever!

We visited the Chadstone Shopping Centre and I don’t think I was quite prepared for how big it is, me and Becky got lost on several occasions but that did result in a spontaneous nose piercing trip (for Becky, don’t worry mum) and me getting a $30 top for $15 because someone in front of me paying gave me the rest of their gift card – what did I say about everyone being so nice here?!

We have also had more people move into the house and i’m starting to question how many this place actually holds because there seems to be a new person moving in every time we speak to our landlord?? We also have a tiny pest problem and I can’t figure out if it is our fault because we hosted pre-drinks and the patio door was opened a lot, but we seem to have acquired a whole bunch of little flies in our house…not quite the critters they warn you about when coming to Australia but just as annoying I promise.

And then for the rest of the week all we have done is party every night and beach every day, resulting in classic Leonie losing her voice on the fist night (netball tour all over again) and a rather nasty bruise down the back of my leg from falling off a dance podium in a club. I must also point out that the 35 degree heat, although beautiful when you’re on the beach, is not as fun in a club with everyone dripping with sweat. Now it is just time to give our bodies a bit of resting time before classes start – even though I hardly remember what one is now I’ve been off study for so long.

A week of New

This past week has gone by so quickly and that’s probably due to how hectic it has been – doesn’t feel like i have stopped for 2 seconds but it has honestly been the best time everrrrrr!

On Sunday i went on a mini hike up to a place called 1000 Steps, which started off as such a struggle since i had an awful box wine hangover (never again). But it was such a gorgeous forest we walked though it was completely worth it and then we went for lunch at a place called SkyHigh Cafe which was insane! You could see the entirety of the Victoria state!

At the beginning of the week my old house mates moved out and new moved in and i went from the new kid to having to answer the questions real quick! I’m not entirely sure how it all happened but we suddenly had made friends with this big group of lovely American girls through hanging out at pools and nights out and we have all gelled so well together, its nice to finally be around a girls again – nothing can replace a good girly chat.

This week was ‘Welcome week’ for international students at the university so we had a couple of days of adminy stuff and then the Beach Welcome Trip. Apart from the rather 7:15 am meet, it was probably the best couple of days i’ve had so far. After a 2 and a half hour drive down to Lorne Beach, we were split into activity groups and proceeded to do things like hiking, mountain biking, beach volley ball and had fish and chips for lunch, this was the first time Becky had ever tried fish and chips (LIKE, WHAT?!). Then on the second day we went surfing – which it turns out i majorly suck at but is fun all the same! But i well and truly got put in my place by karma after saying that my skin doesn’t burn easily and because it wasn’t a particularly hot day i didn’t bother with sunscreen, now after the 2 hours that the sun came out for when we were surfing i have a face so burnt that the majority of my nose has blistered over, its not a good luck, wear your sunscreen kids.

The evening of the first night at Lorne was such a good bonding experience, so we started drinking games (with booze we bought from a guy on a bike who came round the hostel – gotta love the dodginess of it) with random guys in the common area , who turned out to be really lovely and later on we tried to host a party with them and other people everyone had met but that got shut down pretty quick lol. So probably about 90% of the people i have met here are American and due to my super neutral accent i can already feel myself picking up how they talk (not really sure how i feel about this haha), its going to be funny if i spend 5 months in Australia to come home with an American accent.

It just feels so good to finally have this big group of friends so no more solo expeditions for me!

We had a 21st birthday within the group this week which was so much fun! We threw a party and then after trying to organise about 20 people onto the same trams, went clubbing to a place called Lucky Thursdays and we all just had the best time, the music was so good, the vibes we good we were dancing on table tops, it was just a great night. And then we burnt off our hangovers at St Kilda beach so cannot complain!

So yeah it’s been a rather full week of new stuff, but i am just loving everything about it over here and i have made some truly amazing friendships this week. We are going on a city scavenger hunt/bar crawl today and then my old housemates housewarming party tonight so that should be a lot of fun and it will be nice to introduce my new friends to my old ones!

Thanks for reading!

Settling in

When organising to come out to Australia to study, I gave myself 2 weeks before university orientation in order to allow myself time to settle and get to grips with where i am living. I was coming quite literally from the other side of the world after all, and it has been the best decision. It has allowed me time to explore the area, sus out the groceries situation and head into the city a couple of times without having anything else to worry about.

I have been living in my shared house in a suburb just out of the city for a little over a week now and i can say whole-heartedly it has been one the easiest places to settle into. Luckily i moved in with people who have been here for a trimester already so they have taking me under their wing a little bit, from taking me food shopping on my first day to festivals and nights out in the city, and with the added bonus of their amazing Indian cooking.

One of the events they took me to was the St Kilda festival where we met up with more people went for a drink, enjoyed a variety of the local artists preforming – check out The Preatures – got overexcited at beach Zumba and proceeded to relax in a park before heading to a nearby club. The whole evening had a brilliantly chilled, sunset vibe about it, even though the beer was expensive (a common inconvenience around here it seems). Honestly the mere facts of not having to take a coat out with me and the sun not setting until 9pm every night is bring so much joy to my life right now.

I have surprisingly found myself enjoying my own company as my housemates have had exams so i have taken myself off the explore the city solo. There is a certain liberation to being comfortable by yourself, it is the freedom of not having to ‘plan’ anything, if i want to walk the length of the city (RIP my feet) and just roam about and take everything in i can without feeling like i am boring anyone else, and quite frankly the streets are so beautiful there is no need to do anything else. This is also aided by how safe and beautiful the city centre is or at least felt. I was thoroughly surprised how open-aired everything was and i don’t know whether the clear blue sky had any impact on it but i have never been in a UK city that felt so spacious and light.

One thing about this city is that you are guaranteed to never go hungry, especially if you like Asian cuisine! I don’t think if i lived in the city for my entire life i would be able to complete all the eateries packed in and i can vouch for its reputation of serving brilliant coffee -Max Brenner’s New Yorker is some next level iced coffee FYI. I can also vouch for the friendliness, even if rather forwardness, of the Australians (well that of who i have met), as seeing a girl seemingly travelling by herself seems to draw a bit of attention and curiosity wherever you go.

One of the crucial parts of my settling is the joining of a gym. Although it may not seem like it would be near the top of the list of things to do, the gym brings a certain structure to my life (along with the fear of loosing strength if i leave it too long) which i needed. And i can tell you, i have hit the jackpot with this gym, Training Day has some of the best facilities i have seen with separate rooms for every style of training you could think of. Between that and reading my book in the morning sun with my coffee, i have managed to get into a bit of a routine every morning, something that without i would feel very restless.

So yes, i can say i am well and truly settled, i can see why people come out here and never leave, the next couple of weeks have surfing camp, orientation week and new housemates in store so its all rather exciting right now. The Facetime calls off my family and friends (shoutout to mumma bear and Duresha) most mornings and nights have really bought comfort and helped with me feeling like i haven’t completely left my whole life behind and that i always have support, which i couldn’t be more thankful for.

So that’s me done for this week, thanks for reading xx