Michelle from Buffalo, New York studying at USC
Just wanted to share some of my most memorable and exciting memories thus far being here at the Sunshine Coast. Australia in itself is unlike anything in the United States that I have experienced before. I live on the (North) East Coast in Buffalo, New York. I have travelled all along the East Coast to the Carolinas, New Jersey, and Florida down South, as well as spending time on the West Coast in California, Arizona and Nevada. Coming to Australia I had no idea what to expect. Upon arriving to the University of the Sunshine Coast and seeing palm trees I instantly got butterflies. The laid back, tropical and peaceful aura brought me positive energy and joy. While there have been many enriching features of my time spent here on the day to day basis of interacting with people from literally all around the world and living in a new environment and culture, my absolute favourite memories came from this past week of mid-semester break.
Staying in Sippy Downs in itself has been so beautiful and definitely a different cultural atmosphere than what I am staying in back home, but I wanted to see what Australia was really about, what really made it special. This past week I started my vacation off spending a night in a hostel in Brisbane with 3 of my American friends, 2 from back home and 1 new one that I met here. The hostel had a huge balcony that overlooked the city and we had 2 roommates who were brothers from England backpacking around Australia. We walked around Brisbane that night and were in awe at how beautiful and lively all of the lights, people and city itself were. The next morning we woke up at about 3am to catch a taxi to be on our plane by 5am for Melbourne. Once we arrived to Melbourne we dropped our stuff off at our next hostel room and went and adventured off to the city. We grabbed a few coffees and went off admiring the beautiful architecture of the many buildings, bridges and statues. The following morning we got on the bus for the Great Ocean Road Tour. We went on a plethora of stops to sight see much of the scenery this road has to offer. A rainforest, the 12 Apostles-which brought me to tears because of how beautiful-and a few other beaches really was breathtaking. The following day we explored the city some more, visiting the famous graffiti wall on Hosier Lane, checked out a ton of cute little shops and boutiques, sampled gelato and later in the evening got dressed up for a fancy italian dinner at a place called Macaroni’s-delish! After 3 days there, we took our next plane back to Brisbane and then a few taxis and buses later arrived at Whitsundays Airlie Beach. This place was definitely more of a be achy vacation spot-the perfect way to end our spring break.
Our first night we went to the local bar and grill, had some dinner and enjoyed fun music and karaoke. Of course, we then decided some gelato would be a necessary dessert. The next morning we got on our bus that took us to the boat for our Great barrier reef adventure. I have never been more blown away in my entire life. Tropical beachy music was being played, we were given complimentary tea/coffee, fruit and cookies and then were given brief directions on our snorkeling adventure. I had never worn a wetsuit or flippers before-coming from a place where it is winter 60% of the time- and I felt like I was real explorer. Floating above the coral and fish in the Great Barrier Reef was astounding, I literally felt like I was dreaming. We then spent the rest of the adventure getting stuffed with dinner and just cruising around and touring the ocean. It was extremely relaxing and soothing. The following day we went on the Camira Sailboat adventure, which took us to snorkel some more coral and exotic sea life. Next, we got off at Whitehaven Beach- #5 in the entire world, and soaked up the sun on the purely white sand beach and crystal clear water. After having dinner we were able to just relax and take it all in, the mellow atmosphere really brought me back down to Earth and made me appreciate how beautiful it is. Our last day we had a huge breakfast, did some last minute shopping and explored the local lagoon and beaches. What made this vacation so wonderful, was that I got to experience the best of both worlds within Australia- the fun lively city atmosphere, and the tropical, nature earthy part as well. It was beautiful and enriching in so many ways. Along the way of getting to and from each of these destinations, as well as being on them, I was able to meet and talk with locals and internationals. I think it is so amazing that beautiful parts of the world bring people from all over together to experience and enjoy.
Aside from this vacation I’ve noticed Australia in general seems to be that way. The locals are friendly and accommodating and welcoming to all internationals. The mixing of Australia and internationals has led to a plethora of friendships, learning and teaching opportunities, as well as a common respect and appreciation of one another. Words cannot express how much happiness and positivity I feel every day being here, I cannot wait to see what else is in store!!
By Michelle Mirco