After two very long first days in Australia, I left on Monday, the 20th (aka my 23rd Birthday!) for the Beach Welcome Program in Lorne. I'm not exactly thrilled about my living situation (long story that I'll possibly discuss later) so I was pretty excited to get out and start exploring Australia.

This Beach Welcome was for all of the new International students at Deakin so I was anxious to finally make some friends (I feel like I'm a freshman in college all over again). We headed out for the 2 hour bus ride to Lorne and I was happy to see that everyone was just as excited to make new friends as well.

We drove down the Great Ocean Road, which I guess is comparable to the 101/1/Pacific Coast Highway in California (except 10 times more amazing), to get to Lorne. The road was extremely windy so I unfortunately had to miss a lot of the scenery due to the motion sickness I tend to get on vehicles. We arrived and it is easily the most beautiful beach I've ever been to. Sparkling blue water and flawless sand.
The first day was pretty relaxing; just had free time where we mostly lounged on the beach and mingled. We all had different housing, ranging from a nice hotel room to legitimate TENTS. About 12 of us stayed in 2 separate cottages, which were quaint and more cabin like than anything. They were cozy and comfortable, so I was happy. We had to climb a ladder to get to our beds at the top, not to mention climb 2 ginormous hills to get there, but I was just glad we weren't in tents. These cockatoos are EVERYWHERE, and they are fearless (so we fed them). The first night we got a case of "goon" (which is box wine, the only cheap alch in Australia) and probably finished off half the 4 litres :)
The second day was definitely an intense day. We woke up at 7 to eat breakfast at 730 and then started our first activity: mountain biking. I have a small fear of biking, mostly due to my older sister, Mallory, forcing me to ride down a steep hill when I was younger, knowing I would fall, and then, of course, falling at the bottom. But I went anyway, and was SO glad I did. We rode around the beach and to a pier where we watched people fish (& catch stingrays!) and then rode around some semi-rough terrain up and down hills.

Our second activity was surfing :) I almost forgot how much I loved it. I'm obviously not amazing, and we obviously surfed little baby waves, but it felt amazing being able to catch a bunch of waves. I definitely need to start surfing more once/if I go back to San Diego.

The third and final activity we did was surf kayaking. I took a sea kayaking class last semester and I thought it would be the same. Definitely NOT. This was possibly the most intense sport-like thing I've ever done, not to mention the most terrifying. My friend, Rachel, & I went together, which was a big mistake because our combined weight of 200 pounds was NOT enough to weigh down our boat. When we first paddled out to the surf, we got flipped over almost immediately. We tried two more times and finally caught a couple waves, but kept getting flipped over. Everybody was done about 30 minutes into it because the conditions were pretty bad and everybody was getting destroyed. It was still fun, regardless:)

After that, we had a more mellow night to rest up for the next days' tour. After getting all of our luggage together the next morning and semi-cleaning our cottage (not much housekeeping here), we were off on the Great Ocean Road once again.
Our first stop was Apollo Bay, which was another beautiful beach. After that, we went to Maits Rest Rainforest. It's so crazy how beaches and rainforests can be so close together. In San Diego, the only nature around is usually just palm trees. In Australia, there are so many beautiful trees and scenery bordering the beaches.

After that, we went and saw the 12 Apostles. It's all limestone that has been eroded by the waves after the years. It's crazy what mother nature can do. We stopped at a few different points to see it because it stretches out across the beach quite a ways. It seemed so surreal being there. It was such a perfect, picturesque view that it seemed like it could be a backdrop.

We were pretty happy to go home after that. It had only been 2 1/2 days and we saw and did more than I've done in a few months time back home. I would say it made for quite a successful trip:)
 
1) If you don't like how something is: change it or change the way you look at it.
2) Facebooking while abroad is a great way to make you sad and miss everybody
3) You can't rely on people that are 15,000 miles away to make you feel better. Be a big kid and rely on yourself.
 
Well, not so much a jet plane, but leaving on a plane, yes. I am currently 2 hours and 28 minutes from landing. I had waaay too much anxiety to try to write while I was waiting at the airport or even in the beginning of the flight. So now that I have watched 2 ½ movies and slept for a good 8 hours, I’m pretty well rested.

I must admit, Virgin Australia is pretty awesome. I definitely got extremely lucky as well. I have an aisle seat and there’s nobody next to me so I thankfully have a good amount of room to stretch out a bit. We all get little screens in front of us and they have a ton of movie selections. And not even Netflix kind of movie selections (which are always SO awful), but good movies. The seats are relatively comfortable and the food was almost decent. I wasn’t hungry anyway because Nate and I ate Mexican food at the airport (everybody keeps telling me Australia has no Mexican food. I don’t even like Mexican food all that much but knowing I won’t be able to have it semi depresses me).

Anyway, this 16 hour flight hasn’t been all that bad. I was really sad leaving and had a few moments of weaknesses but kept strong for the most part. In reality, it shouldn’t be sad saying goodbye to my family or Nate, but it is. I usually don’t see my family for 5-6 months at a time anyway, and Nate will be coming here in 3 weeks. It was pretty rough saying goodbye to my friends because this is about the time where everybody starts moving away (I suppose myself included) and so I really don’t know who I’ll see ever again. Obviously I’ll stay friends with my closest friends, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see each other even remotely often. So needless to say, I had a good amount of anxiety the last few hours before my departure.

So now that they let me on the plane (I had a small fear that I may have messed up somehow and wouldn’t be allowed on), the next step is finding my driver and getting to my house. I figured out housing through “Burwood Student Living” (BSL) and it was pretty painless. I was trying to figure out housing with this other company for weeks now and they were extremely difficult. I had my spot reserved and everything and they were just impossible to communicate with. Like, okay I’m ready to pay, how do I do it? And their reply every time was just “oh great, just send the money on over before you come”. No details, no help, nothing. So I was really grateful that BSL contacted me and I got it all figured out about 2 days ago.

SOOO, I’m definitely more excited than I am nervous now. About 15 hours ago I was 80% nervous & 20% excited. I’m probably at about 70% excited now.
 
There's no better place or time to write than when you're sitting at the airport. So here I am. I'm not yet leaving for Australia, but just going back down to San Diego/Vegas/LA for a week until my final departure.

First of all, I should probably mention that I kept a diary for about 13 years until my laptop tragically crashed a little over a year ago, resulting in the loss of about 7 of those years. (Always back your computer up on an external hard drive or a flash drive at the very least!) The remaining years are on actual handwritten diaries or old-school floppy disks. I decided to quit writing after that (dramatic, I know). But it’s pretty discouraging (AKA heartbreaking) when literally hundreds of pages slash my entire high school and college life were erased (this also includes pictures. Thank God for Facebook). But ya, so I've had a few years of experience with writing at airports/on airplanes.

Anyway, it’s always so bittersweet being at airports. Always leaving somewhere behind. I suppose I should be more optimistic and see It as going somewhere, but it always seems more bitter than sweet. I sit here now (which is currently on the plane), leaving Sac until July – which isn’t even that big of a deal because I’ve gone longer without being home or seeing my family. It’s just weird now that I’ll be living in a different country, even further away from my adorable nephews and the rest of my amazing family. My nephews are all getting so big, it’s crazy! When I get back they’ll probably be twice the size they are now.

NorCal was good while it lasted. Went to a Kings/Warriors game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, which was fun – minus the Kings losing (PS, how am I going to watch basketball in Australia?!!). Hung around the bay for a couple days visiting Nate’s family and then came to Sac about a week ago. Jumped around my sisters houses and got to spend some quality time with the family. I feel like I’m getting pretty good at this packing light (well trying to) and constantly moving thing because we changed houses every 2 days at least.
So now I’m heading back to San Diego right now and then I’ll be leaving for Vegas on Friday until Sunday. Monday I’m having my going away/birthday dinner with my friends. I hate goodbyes because I’m definitely not the emotional type and basically just get really awkward and uncomfortable in those situations. It’ll just be weird because I’m not sure if I’ll be moving back to San Diego, ever really. I mean, I obviously wouldn’t mind and if I didn’t have any other plans, I might as well (there or back to Sac). But my goal is to keep traveling and moving around. Hopefully Nate or I (or both of us would be nice) get a good job somewhere and can move to a different country or even stay in Australia. That’s the plan for now, but who knows – things always change. 

OH & I added another thing to my bucket list. My old dance coach Kristin convinced me to go to this hip hop dance class last night and so I went. Almost forgot how much I love dancing. Or how good it feels. (Or how out of shape I am). So I’m determined to find a studio or somewhere in Australia to take dance classes. It definitely filled a void I didn’t even realize I had. 

So hopefully all of my blog entries aren’t this long. I realize I should probably be trying to cut them short to keep my audience’s attention. But it’s so hard to condense everything I want to say. I guess I’m a little too used to doing the whole diary thing where I would write pages and pages about my entire life. So I’ll work on making it short and sweet. Til the next airport I arrive at!