Thoughts From a Woman Destined to Live in Paris
I am blessed to have some fantastic coworkers. They are kind, supportive, inviting, friendly, and really great people. One of my coworkers let me tag along with her and a friend as they went to the Grampians, a national park and mountain range in Victoria. We visited Halls Gap and climbed the Pinnacle.
Now, I'm not like a super intense, nature loving, hiking boot yielding, water bottle backpack sporting kind of gal. Don't get me wrong, I love being outside, but I hadn't explored the outdoorsy side of myself too extensively. That's been a big change I've seen in myself lately is that I WANT to explore the outdoorsy part of myself.
I was excited for the chance to visit Halls Gap because I am always interested in new opportunities and my appreciation for nature and being outdoors has blossomed because of this trip. I really love the beauty of a charming sunrise or the sense of peace you feel when watching the ocean come in. I hadn't realized how much I enjoy or appreciate these things, and maybe that's because I hadn't let myself take time to appreciate them and explore the beauty of the world around me.
Anyways, I joined Chelsea and her friend for a completely stunning hike. We had the perfect weather. We had the best views. The path we took to the Pinnacle was difficult, but so worth each spectacular view. The rolling hills, little towns, mountain ranges, and just perfect weather made the trip amazing. There is such a uniqueness to places like this. Below are some photos of me representing my EIU pride at the Pinnacle and more photos of the entire day!
It's easy to feel at peace with yourself and the world when you can see it from such a clear vantage point. It's easy to feel humbled by the beauty around you and use that moment to put your life into perspective. Much of this journey I've been trying to decide what I want. Not just professionally, but personally. I don't have all the answers yet, but weekend trips like these start to help me formulate them.
After our trip to and from the Pinnacle, or 20,000 steps, we went into the town at the bottom of the mountain. The area of Halls Gap is very popular in summer holidays for camping, hiking, biking and attracts travelers from all around. We stopped in the town for delicious meat pies, ice cream, and to rest our feet.
Before we started the drive back from Halls Gap, we happened across a footy oval that was literally full of kangaroos. I have not been able to capture a photo of a kangaroo yet this trip and I was convinced that I would never see one! Fear not, as I know you were waiting in suspense to find out if I saw one, but I did!
Not only did I see this kangaroo, but I pet it! Below are photos highlighting the stages of emotions I felt meeting the kangaroos. From joy to fear, I felt all the feels. (Photo of me panicking when the kangaroo moved is below...)
It was an incredible day, and I'm thankful I got to experience it.
The train from Ballarat to Melbourne is an easy and quick way to get to the center of the city, which is great news for me, and I've taken advantage of this short train ride several times. I probably have this romantic and idealistic view of the train, but it's a lot of fun and a nice way to spend a weekend.
During my last trip two trips to Melbourne, I wanted to see more of the city. Last time I was there, I felt like I only saw about a fourth of it. Melbourne is set up like a grid, so it's easy to section it off into areas to explore. The last two trips I think I visited much more of the city, which was exciting!
Some of the highlights of these adventures were my visit to the national gallery where I saw an exhibit on the history of Australian fashion. It was an incredible exhibit. I'm a bit of a nut for fashion (if you can't tell by my Instagram feed...) and I was completely enamored by the exhibit. I could have spent all day looking at the different outfits and reading about the designers who created them. It was phenomenal.
Additionally, I didn't realize there were so many cute alleys and walkways, called arcades, that are like little malls full of shops and restaurants connecting different streets and areas of the city. Having lunch at a little restaurant in a little nook of the city like that was one of the neatest experiences. I'm probably too much a food tourist, but when you have so many options and they're all delicious, how can you not be?! (And a huge thank you to a friend of a friend who showed me around town and made some suggestions on places and arcades to go to next time I'm in town!)
I still have a lot of places and things I'd like to do in Melbourne, and luckily I've got a few more weekends here to check some experiences off the list, but at the same time I think I've seen a good part of the city and grown in my appreciation of it.
For the curious travel enthusiasts, here is a list of places and activities I did on my two recent visits:
Here it is, the final post of my Sydney mini series. The final set of photos and stories of my adventure. I can't decide if I want the series to end or if I'm ready to go on and talk about more parts of my journey. I think it's a mix of both.
Either way, on the fourth day of my trip to Sydney, I was out the door and on my way to St. Mary's Cathedral. I had walked by the cathedral several times before, but I hadn't been there when the lighting was great or seen the building in daylight. I wanted to be there first thing in the morning. The cathedral is an incredible structure. It's beautiful and intricate facade looks like something you'd seen in a European cathedral tour. I later learned that the cathedral spires were not finished until a long time after the building was in use to avoid a tax on completed buildings. The grounds of the building are lovely and you could look around for hours. It's in a perfect location right near Hyde Park and not far from the CBD (Central Business District). The historic building stands out among the modern skyscrapers.
After seeing the cathedral, I hopped on a double decker bus tour of Sydney. I sat on the top, which I soon regretted after I felt the wind. However, the photos I took were worth it, so I guess it all worked out in the end! The bus tour took me to Circle Quay, Central Station, the CBD, Kings Cross, and to many other unique landmarks and areas of the city.
The bus tour ticket I bought included two different tours, so after I finished the city tour I hopped on the bus for the Bondi Beach tour. I was pretty excited for this tour as well since Bondi because is famous for it's beautiful beaches, white sand, and surrounding shopping and neighborhoods. I loved the tour. I had a chance to hop off the bus and I spent my time admiring the beach. After putting my feet in the water to prove I had been to both sides of the Pacific ocean, I hopped back on the bus to see the surrounding suburbs of Bondi Beach. All of the views from these suburbs were breathtaking, and it was hard to want to leave after spending some time in the area!
Alas, I did hop off the bus once I returned to town and decided to check out the Australian Museum. This museum was huge. While I was not a fan of the exhibit on dangerous and deadly Austrian wildlife, I loved the exhibits on dinosaurs and aboriginal australians.
After my trip to the museum, I walked back to the Vivid Festival at Circle Quay to see if I could get a view of the other side of the Sydney Opera House. I loved seeing the light show from the other side of the water and I was able to walk around and explore the other festival activities. I happened upon the modern art museum and spent some time there during the festival.
Thinking that my night was almost over since it was getting late, I made my way back to my hostel. Upon arriving, I met a young woman who had just came from England. She was hoping to see some of the city, and I told her I could tell her a little of what I had learned during my trip. We walked around the city and I showed her some of the landmarks while we made our way to the Vivid Festival. Once we arrived, we explored the area under the bridge and walked near the water. It was great to get to meet her and hear about her adventures as a new traveler. I was happy to share what I had learned about Sydney and excited to hear what things she had planned for her visit. We've since kept and touch and are going to meet up soon before I am back stateside!
My last full day in Sydney was fantastic. I saw all around the city, made a new friend, explored more of the festival, and felt like I had soaked up a ton of experiences and information in just a few short days. I was the ultimate tourist, and I loved it. I went to the museums. I ate delicious street food. I took photos of everything. I challenged myself to keep adventuring and finding things to do. And I had a blast.
Once you reach Circle Quay, you can see the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House can be seen from almost every angle. Having a beautiful view of these icons begs the question: if you haven't got photos of yourself visiting them, have you really been there? (Well, technically yes. But for the purposes of this blog post, I have photos...)
Day three of my trip I was out the door early and on my way to Circle Quay and the Harbor Bridge. I wanted to get there early so I could check in for my morning bridge climb. This climb was on my Sydney trip bucket list. Ever since the Olsen Twins climbed the bridge in their early 2000 movie, I too wanted to climb the bridge. I know how silly that sounds, but sometimes you just get an idea in your head and you have to roll with it!
I arrived to the Bridge Climb early, probably because I was a weird mix of excited and nervous. I happened to sit by another girl and I started chatting with her. Turns out she was an exchange student from New Jersey visiting the city. We ended up kind of being thrown together in our climb group since we were each there by ourselves. It was actually really nice to talk to someone else who was traveling by themselves and climbing the bridge.
The bridge climb was an incredible and indescribable experience. The weather was amazing with clear blue skies and perfect sunlight. The views were some of the most beautiful views that I've ever seen. You can see for miles and miles, but not even notice that there are more miles to see. During the climb, I had this strange sense that I was seeing the world more clearly and that the experience gave me a greater perspective on my adventure. It sounds cliche, but that feeling seems to have been right.
For part of the trip, I left my camera in my bag. I let myself explore the city, take in the sights, and experience each moment. It's easy when you're traveling to get so wrapped up into taking the perfect photo, you forget to savor the moment. I love taking photos and it's been a joy to embrace my inner photographer while in Australia, but sometimes it's okay to just let each moment happen without taking a picture to prove it happened.
Following the bridge climb, explored the area near the bridge and spent time letting myself go from event to event. I went to a viewing area from one of the bridge towers, then I walked through this fantastic outdoor market in an area called The Rocks. After I had explored the bridge side of the quay, I walked to the Sydney Opera House.
Since I was a little girl, I've dreamed of going to the Sydney Opera House. Maybe it's the little girl in me who wanted to be an opera singer, or the lover of architecture who wanted to see this amazing phenomon. Nevertheless, seeing the real thing was humbling and overwhelming. There was just so much to see and admire. I had a chance to take a tour, and the tourist that I am even got the photo book!
Luckily, after I finished my tour of the Opera House, I walked through the botanical gardens and stayed nearby for the rest of the afternoon. This was a pretty (unintentionally) strategic decision on my part because I ended up with a great spot for the Vivid Festival.
I'm not sure I can describe in words the view of the Opera House during the Vivid Festival, or how amazing it is to see the harbor bridge light up during the night, but I do have photos. Maybe that will help share some of the joy of the experience with you.
Sydney is a tourists paradise. Everywhere you look there's something to do or see. This was exciting, but also gave me so many options to decide what to do! When I was walking through the city, I saw the Sydney Tower (also called Westfield Tower). I thought this would be a really great way to start my second day.
So, first thing in the morning I bought a ticket and headed up to the tower. I've never been to a tower where you had to enter through a shopping mall (not that I'm complaining...). I was really excited to get to the viewing deck and see the city of Sydney and the miles of water, neighborhoods, and tourist attractions surrounding it.
Also, they had you take a photo before you went up like at most tourist attractions. Luckily, I had my EIU flag in my bag and I figured it was as good of a time as any to break it out. Personally, I'm a fan of the koala holding me like King Kong. It's pretty convincing.
After my adventure visiting the tower (more photos of the view and tower below), I headed off to visit the University of Sydney and meet with some of their housing staff. The University of Sydney is a Group of 8 institution, which is like an Australian Ivy League school. This was a great visit and I learned about their operations, met the Vice President of Student Affairs (the structure is different on each campus I visited, but some elements of the role are the same). I then had a tour of campus and heard about the upcoming plans for more accommodation options. It was an awesome experience. One of the buildings I toured was the Queen Mary Building. It's a former nurse's barracks and was transformed into student residences. The entire facility is amazing. The renovated building pays homage to the history and heritage of the original building. It's a fantastic blend of the old and the new. The professional staff member who manages that building is an American and I had a chance to meet him. It was nice to hear a familiar accent and talk to another NACURH alumni!
After the University of Sydney, I walked to the University of Technology Sydney campus (just a few minutes down the road.) UTS is a more urban institution. I had a chance to tour the Yarra Building and hear about their plans to create some residential communities that focus on connecting and engaging underrepresented students. I loved having a chance to hear about UTS's operations and the great work they are doing. The housing office has an app that is for students to report maintenance concerns, find information, and look up information about their building and the department. It's built in house and will continue to be developed in the next few years. My inner housing and marketing nerd could barely contain herself. That is one of the coolest things I've seen and I was really impressed by it. I loved the idea of a housing app that instantly connected students with information to help them be successful.
Following my visits I explored the area of the city both campuses are located in, as well as walked to some other parts of the city. I visited Chinatown where there was this great market that reminded me of what you'd see in movies. I have never been to a proper Chinatown before, and I took more photos than I probably should have. Following Chinatown I made my way to King's Cross, which is an area famous for being a hub of shopping, restaurants, and nightclubs. It was a lovely area and I happened across the most delicious Thai restaurant. I walked through the streets for the rest of the day and found some shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions to visit.
It was great to just sightsee and let myself just find things that interested me. Of course I had a few tourist attractions that I wanted to make sure I went to, but others I just happened across. I think that's the best way to travel. Plan for the things you absolutely can't leave without doing, and let yourself fall into the other events and activities as they happen. It gives you a chance to see where the journey takes you, and isn't that the reason we travel? We learn to let the journey unfold and see who we become as a result of it.
My trip to Sydney was so exciting and full of great stories that I'm creating a mini blog series surrounding it.
To start off the series, I'll touch on some of the highlights of of my trip and share photos. Later posts will cover more of my trip, include more photos, and give an overview of some of my networking visits with two universities in Sydney. This trip I was a complete tourist and I loved it (camera, backpack, and walking shoes included.) I probably was the worst nightmare of many locals because I stopped wherever I was to take photos.
During my trip to Sydney, I stayed in a hostel with a pretty central location. This was my first time staying in a hostel, so it was a really interesting experience. I met some really nice people while I was there. Getting around was really simple, the public transport system in Sydney is great. I opted to walk most of the time because it was easy, allowed me to see more of the area, and the weather was nice during the trip!
I spent several days and nights in Sydney on account of it being a long weekend. I happened to be there during a winter lights festival called Vivid. I really lucked out because Vivid was spread out across the city. It was most impressive near Circle Quay (right by the harbor bridge, opera house, and ferry docs). I saw the lights in the central part of the city, happened upon some street performers, and even saw the show in Darling Harbor.
My first day in Sydney I arrived in the afternoon from the airport. I found my hostel, checked in, and spent some time walking around and exploring. I happened upon this incredible network of malls that are all connected underground and above ground. Some of the places I went to were the Queen Victoria Building, Westfield Mall, Pitt Street Mall, and Market Street. I didn't buy much, but I realized that first day that I could use a stylish, yet functional, little backpack for my adventure. I found the perfect one and thought it'd make a great souvenir!
I went to Top Shop and found there was a donut store inside of it (I'm 100% serious. The donut shop was inside of the other store. Store-ception.). Donut Time was on the landing before the entrance to the lower floor. I was beyond excited to check out this donut shop not only because it sounded delicious, but also because I've never seen anything like this. I had a Flinders Street inspired donut (a famous street in Melbourne where there's a huge station...photos of this street in Melbourne coming in a later post) thanks to the recommendation of the girl who worked there. It was probably the best donut I've ever had and featured a coffee glaze and cookie on top of the icing.
I also visited Darling Harbor, which had great restaurants, shops, and waterfront pathways. It's nearby some of the other areas outside of the city center that I think include more shopping, food districts, and residential areas. While in Darling Harbor, I saw the Vivid light show there and I've included a video and photos. The lights were in sync with great music and visual effects. I had heard some information about Vivid from my coworkers before going, but I had no idea it was such an incredible festival and brought so many people out to see. While in Darling Harbor, I rode a giant ferris wheel that sat next to the water. I know many cities have ferris wheels, but each time I get a chance to ride one anywhere, I'm like a little kid again. I was beyond excited to ride the ferris wheel (see video of pure excitement below) and it was such a cool experience.
This trip to Sydney was a huge adventure for me. I like to think I'm a pretty adaptable and well-versed traveler, but this was traveling on a whole new level. I was traveling by myself in a city that was in another part of the world. I'll share more photos and stories soon as this blog series continues, but I cannot convey just how amazing this experience was. The city is incredible. Each corner and street is like a gateway into a new adventure. There was so much to do and explore. Hopefully, you appreciate the photos and videos from the adventure as much as I did.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to travel to one of FedUni's other campuses. FedUni is a regional university and has several campuses that serve a range of students in different programs and from different backgrounds. FedUni Living has residences at Ballarat and Gippsland campuses.
The Gippsland campus is three to four hours (traffic permitting) from Ballarat. I got to travel there to shoot videos and photos for promotional materials as part of my internship projects. I was completely ecstatic to travel to another campus and see more of Victoria. Gippsland is in a beautiful location. The campus is this picturesque landscape surrounded by stunning views, rural rolling hills, and other postcard worthy scenery.
Everyone I met at Gippsland was kind, friendly, and really made the visit special. The students who helped with photos and videos were passionate and excited. We spent a good part of the day walking around and working, and they were just as excited at the end as they were in the beginning. I was able to take care of all my work projects and spent some additional time taking some photos for myself (see below). I explored the campus and saw some of the most lovely views I have seen. It was an added plus that the weather was fantastic while we were there.
I love traveling and visiting new places, if only for a day or two. I think there is beauty and excitement in the adventure and lots to focus on as part of the memories. I just love road trips. I'm the kind of road tripper that looks out the window and comments on the scenery most of the drive, and probably secretly annoys the other people in the car. It may seem silly that I'm so excited about a lovely view, but often I think the little things in life bring us the most joy. I've noticed that I am starting to appreciate photos and a nice walk more than I used to. There are things I've taken for granted, and I'm thankful for the inspiration to appreciate them again as part of this adventure.
Hopefully, you enjoy these photos as much as I do. The trip was lovely, the people were great, the weather was perfect, and the adventure was exciting!
Photos from my adventure
Many of my pals are enjoying the summer weather, but the other hemisphere is in the midst of winter. Upon arriving in Ballarat, I was told that it's particularly cold here in the winters. I didn't really know what this would mean or if it would feel like a cold winter to me. I can confirm that it is indeed cold and that when it's dark out it feels like a regular old winter. (See below for photo of me in proper winter attire).
I'm still learning to understand what temperature it is out (Fahrenheit love forever), but it can get pretty cold! However, other days are super warm and sunny. I think I just have to prepare each day for the weather and hope for the best.
Not too long ago, I had a chance to join some of our students at the Res Footy Grand Finals (the same photo of me bundled up also includes me holding the game ball). It was a really cool experience. I had some footy lessons to help me learn some strategies to play and the best rules to follow so I understand what's going on. Australian Football, aka "footy", is kind of like a combo between rugby, soccer, and American football.
I've noticed that sports are really big in Australia. Perhaps it's because FedUni has a lot of students studying sports science and related athletic fields, or it's because lots of people like to spend time outdoors. Who can blame them with some of the natural beauty they're surrounded by every day?! All wondering aside, I can tell you that everyone here seems to love a great game of sports and a good meat pie!
Speaking of meat pies, I can confirm that they are pretty delicious. I've heard you're supposed to eat them with "dead horse" aka ketchup, but I've also been told no one calls it dead horse. I'm not sure. Maybe I should start a slang list and see if I can keep up with what the kids are saying these days.
This footy game happened to fall during the Reconciliation Week. This is a week dedicated to reconciling with the aboriginal peoples who were residents of Australia before colonialism and the arrival of English settlers. The repairing of relationships and honoring the aboriginal peoples is a core part of this week. The footy final included a traditional smoking ceremony by an aboriginal elder and he discussed the ancestors who first played footy. He encouraged students to play fair and justly, but have fun.
I plan share a full blog post about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their relation to the larger puzzle of higher education in Australia in the next few weeks. I feel like it's a story I am meant to share as part of my journey and my time learning about Australian higher education through this internship.
But for now, I would like to take a moment and appreciate a really fun night of watching a sporting event and taking place in a traditional ceremony to honor good sportsmanship and promoting a spirit of fairness. Also, I would like to verify that it is indeed cold and wintery here, but I don't mind that a bit. :)
I have been so lucky to have met some fantastic people during my adventure this summer. Adjusting and meeting people can be a challenge, but there are some folks that you're just thankful to have in your life! Already, I am thankful for my phenomenal coworkers, the students I've interacted with, and many other people who I have crossed paths with on this journey.
One of those people is a person I met my first weekend here. Her name is Marie and she is the same person that invited me to the Talbot Market. She's off to her next adventure in another part of Australia, but I know we'll stay in touch and see each other again. I appreciate her love of adventure, passion for good food (all of her cafe recommendations for Ballarat are spot on), and the joy she finds in the little things.
I figured it was fitting that we take a picture together in one of my favorite nooks in Ballarat.
Below are more photos of the city of Ballarat and it's blend of history and culture.
My adventure into Melbourne also included a trip to the Melbourne Sealife Aquarium. I was, perhaps, way too excited about this adventure and barely kept it together when I saw the turtles and penguins. I captured many cute and adorable creatures on film and I wanted to share those photos with all of you! I did my best to be a live action photographer, and I think I had some pretty good shots.
Below is a real life shark sighting with me at the aquarium.
Update: Kangaroos sighted in the paddock by the main highway on my way back to campus. They were more exciting than the first one I saw who was dead on the side of the road (That really did happen, poor guy.). I hope to have photos of more kangaroos that I encounter in the future, but I didn't get a chance to take any when I saw them.