Travel Regrets

For most twenty something humans who took a GAP Year and did a month long Contiki tour, you’ll know a think or two about #NOREGRETS. And yet, anyone who’s done a Contiki knows that there’s actually #manyregrets. And take it from me, someone’s who’s travelled and made #manyregrets then listen up, and be prepared for the mistakes to avoid and the regrets that will inevitably occur on your ultimate, scandalous, adventurous and crazy trip abroad.

img_7580

Pulling all nighters to save a night on accommodation

For some delusional reason, when you’re travelling and broke af,  you tend to do crazy things to save money. One of them is making the decision to save a nights accommodation by catching an overnight bus or train. In theory, yes it works. But in practice, it leaves you angry, tired, hungry and questioning your own sanity. It took a while for me to learn. The first time I did this was catching an overnight bus from London to Paris. Whilst it was the cheapest option and I’d definitely recommend it, DO NOT DO IT OVERNIGHT. Between customs, border patrol, the ferry, the cold, and the cramped seats on the bus, you will not arrive in Paris fresh, excited and ready for the day, despite what the movies say.

Thinking you can ‘do Paris’ in 2 days

First of all, Paris is not that greasy one night stand that you ‘do’ on a quiet Thursday night bootycall. Paris is an elegant date that needs to be wined and dined. She’s a classy lady and knows that all good things come to those who wait. It deeply pains me to hear that people completely write off a place after only spending a few days there. Instantly jumping to the classic ‘it’s dirty, there’s so many homeless people, I didn’t get proposed to’ bullshit that shatters their unrealistic dreams of a place like Paris. They spend 1 woeful day there and then they’re off to the next. Paris, and the great cities of the world were not created for you to ‘do’ and tick off you list. To really grasp and experience a city, you’ve got to spend a minimum of 5 days. And who knows what changing the pace will lead to, but I promise it will be more genuine and special.

img_7803

Pulling an all nighter then catching a train across the country

11 hour train journey’s are hard enough as it is. Do not, I repeat… DO NOT go out all night in San Sebastian, return home at 6am then catch your train at 6:30 to Barcelona on the other side of the country. If you look up the definition of pathetic, you would’ve seen my hungover face on that page. Never before have I felt closer to death. Every hour I had to run to the bathroom to throw up, sip on water, and tried to sleep. I completely missed all of the (apparently) beautiful scenery and I arrived in Barcelona just wanting to die.

Thinking you can save money on accommodation and fit 6 people into a 2 person room

OK smarty pants, you think you’ve fooled the system? You think you’re a genius because you squeezed an extra 4 people into your small double room? You may be saving money, but you sir, are an idiot! It may be fine for 1 night, but eventually you need to ask hotel staff for extra towels, pillows, blankets. You try to rotate sleeping positions and always wake up with someone snoring in your ear and another spooning you with sweat. In case you haven’t already gathered, getting a good night’s sleep is just as about important as that learning tower is to Pisa, so make sure you respect it.

Every Hangover Ever

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, hangovers are the devil having a party in your poisoned stomach. But whilst you’re travelling, your always on the go, with early mornings, late nights, being overwhelmed by history, culture, food and adventure… so when that 12th tequila shot hits, it’s taking you down with it. And trying to recover on a bus… well, just make sure you have a paper bag at the ready.

img_8326

Thinking that German guy at the bar could be the one

Now I’m all for being a hopeless romantic, but let’s be honest, that mysterious German guy at the bar buying you drinks has no intention of becoming your boy boy. Sure you’ll flirt, get drunk, have sex, exchange numbers…. and then you’ll never see each other again. Who knows, maybe one sexy German guy at the bar really is the one, (and for your sake, that would be cute as hell). But don’t fool yourself into thinking that most travellers at the bar are looking for anything else but a one night stand.

Not being able to read the ATM language and accidentally withdrawing $2000 instead of $20

When you’re abroad, it’s important to have access your money. How else are you going to buy all that super cheap vodka in Hungary? However, ATM’s overseas aren’t always the same as the ones here in Australia. You know when you go to buy some sushi and they only accept cash so you run to the ATM, hurriedly take out $20 without even looking because you know where the $20 button is and you need to satisfy that sushi craving asap? DO NOT TRY OVERSEAS WHERE YOU DON’T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE. I will never forget the time in Hungary when my friend thought he was getting out $20 Australian, and instead withdrew nearly $2000! And to make it even worse… it was in Hungarian Forint which is super weak and hard to exchange. Make sure you pick an ATM that has an English option, along with a currency exchange app to make sure you don’t make the worst mistake of withdrawing your hard earned savings.

6241748320_img_8917

OK so maybe they’re not regrets. They’re more like mistakes and complete fuck ups that I kinda wish I avoided but at least now I have an awesome story to tell. And that’s what travelling gives you. The good, the bad and the freakin ugly. No matter how many #regrets you have, at least you’ll have some killer stories.

[You can check out this post on a site that knows all about regrets at Twenty Something Humans]

1544e0_2a7319ccfff74458ae0856253d3495fd-mv2_d_2480_3508_s_4_2

Post Travel Depression: It’s Real and It SUCKS


They say the hardest thing about travelling is coming back home…

It’s been exactly 1 month since leaving Montreal – how the hell has that happened? If you speak to Time, please tell him he’s working a bit too quickly lately, because damn has time absolutely escaped me. I guess travelling around the States for 2 weeks helped (if you missed it you can check out my videos from America here). Upon being back in Australia I’ve been equally busy. Seeing friends, family, getting back to work, finding a house, and finally sleeping in my own bed (luxury!), I’ve been busy enough to distract me from the void in my stomach. But now that routine is finally starting to kick in, I’m slowly but surely hitting that inevitable wall of post travel depression.

Post Travel Depression, I argue, is a real and genuine thing that overcomes you a few weeks after returning from overseas. And the worst thing is, that you’re never really prepared for it. No matter if you’re a seasoned traveller or a first timer, I promise that it will still hit you as hard every time. You come back from your holiday (or in my case, exchange) and you’re like a minor celebrity. You walk around, see everyone you know, everyone’s asking about your trip, your pictures, if you met any cute boys… and you’re ecstatic.

img_1110

Did That Really Happen?

But then a week passes by, you start working again, then another week passes by, and you’re hanging out at your old bar, then a few more days pass by and it’s honestly like you’ve never left. Everything you’ve experienced, just feels like a dream. But how could it be a dream? It was one of the best experiences of your life! And slowly but surely, you slip right back into your old life, and you start sinking.

Change

I think the worst part is when you feel that you’ve changed, grown and had your mind and eyes well and truly blown. You’ve basically created a new version of you whilst on your travels, but the people you know and love back home, can’t see it. Sure they may notice little things, that you’ve put on some weight from all those baguettes, or picked up a weird accent, but at the end of the day, they’ll never truly understand. And that contributes towards the ‘dreamlike’ feeling of your experience, it kind of leaves you questioning if it really happened, and you feel yourself loosing a part of person you created overseas. And that feeling…. it’s incredibly horrible.

img_1107

Missing Out

It’s even worse when some sort of major event or occasion happens where you were living or travelling, and you get an overwhelming feeling of missing out. For example, not long after I left Montreal, there was a festival called IglooFest. And if the name itself isn’t enough to sell you, all of my friends went. OK, so that wasn’t the end of the world, missing an awesome festival. But what really hit me in the feels, was when it was my best friends 22nd birthday. You see snapchats, Instagrams, Facebook posts and you just know, deep in your heart, that everyone is having an amazing time, and that you’re really missing out on something special.

And I guess that’s something that we just have to come to accept and deal with. You can’t be everywhere at the same time (unless we make MAJOR advancements in technology asap). And we can’t always do everything we want to do. Reality strikes, your visas up, your exchange is over, your return flight is booked and you’ve got things to do. This doesn’t mean you have to be boring, but it does mean that physical barriers exist and at the end of the day, if you can’t be there in person, I’m sure you’re there in spirit (drinking all the spirits at the party whilst killing it at beer pong).

img_1104

Expression and Communication

The best way to deal with these feelings, is to get it out there. Society almost expects people who return from travel, to always be happy and rejuvenated. But by talking about how you’re feeling, and spreading the word of the honestly shit feelings you experience when returning, then you’ll get a lot more support, love and kindness.

And keep in contact with your friends you’ve met overseas. Give them a random FaceTime, send them a card, Snapchat them your day, write them a message and tell them that you’re having a rough time and that you miss them. I assure you that your friends will be missing you too. The most important thing to remember is that the friends you meet whilst on exchange or travelling aren’t just going to disappear. In fact, I think you’ll cross paths sooner than you expect.

img_3485

Your Next Adventure

Whilst everyone will experience this post travel depression differently and adjust at different rates and in different ways, I promise you, you’ll get through it. Soon enough you’ll be planning your next trip and starting your next adventure. The most important thing to remember is that travel and adventure is not just an action, it’s a mindset. So keep positive, live with purpose and accept and respect your feelings. You’ve gotta look after yourself, so that you can adjust to life back home, whilst planning your next adventure so you can do it all again.

img_0763

How To Survive Christmas Away From Home

So you’ve got an epic trip planned for the summer break. Firstly, WOOO! You’re going to be travelling, adventuring, meeting new people and learning about this big and beautiful world. Unless you’re on a Contiki trip, in which case you’ll be binge drinking your way around Europe. Good luck! Secondly, you’re going to be travelling or binge drinking on Christmas! WOOO-WAIT-WHAT?! And being a twenty something human, you realise that you’re not quite prepared to spend Christmas away from your family, friends and home. You’re in that awkward phase of being independent and wanting to create your own new traditions, experiences and badass memories. But at the same time you also want your Mum to cook you food, do your laundry and watch The Grinch with your little cousins whilst digesting your food baby.

Well luckily for you, this year will be my second Christmas overseas, so I think I know a thing or two about surviving that jolly time of year where it’s apparently socially acceptable to wear candy cane earrings and play Christmas carols for the entire month of December.

tumblr_mx73xeSuhP1soalt8o6_500.gif

Make Plans

The first time I spent Christmas away from home was when I was 19 and living in London. My housemates and I cooked a huge feast and got ridiculously drunk. We bought a little Christmas tree and decorated it with tinsel and beer bottle caps, classy I know. I was lucky I got to spend that Christmas with such dear friends. But wherever it is you find yourself, whether it be a hostel, a hotel, a tent or a flight… make some epic plans. Do something wild, or crazy or out of the ordinary. Not only will it keep you busy and your mind occupied, but you’ll then remember that wild time you did a nudie run in Switzerland, made a giant snowman in Canada, or swam through a waterfall in Indonesia on Christmas, for the rest of your life.

Buy Alcohol… lots of alcohol

Ok, I’m not going to lie, alcohol definitely helped me through that Christmas in London. If you put a group of young Australians together, with no parental or adult supervision, you’ve got a recipe for a wild day and night. Honestly… alcohol… enough said.

source.gif

Plan a Secret Santa

Secret Santas aren’t just for middle aged ladies working at your local grocery store. Secret Santa is the cheapest and easiest way to recreate Santa’s visit to your house. You don’t even have to go through the stress of organizing who has who as a Secret Santa. Just plan for everyone to bring a gift, chuck it under your Christmas tree, and after a few drinks when someone rightfully puts on a Santa hat and beard, the gifts can be randomly distributed. Plus, you don’t have to put out milk and cookies for Santa. Those cookies have your name on it.

 Embrace local culture

Did you know that in San Francisco and New York City, they hold an event called ‘SantaCon’ where everyone dresses up as Santa Claus and takes to the streets to partake in an epic pub crawl? Or that in Ukraine they add spider webs to their Christmas trees? And did you know that in Japan, there’s lines out the doors for KFC on Christmas day? Yes… KFC! Christmas means different things to different people across the world, it may be a day to celebrate with friends and family, a day to eat, a day to rest or just another ordinary day. Wherever you are in the world, get amongst the local culture to celebrate Christmas the way the locals do!

ukrainian-spider-web-ornament-big_extralarge700_id-1775522
Enter a caption

So Merry Christmas wherever you are in the world. If it’s filled with laughter, alcohol and inappropriate gifts, you’ve done Christmas right.

Why You Should LIVE ABROAD At Least Once In Your Life

Every second person these days are posting their travel pictures or posting about their plans for up coming travel. Travelling is AMAZING and I love it, but when you’re living out of a suitcase, it’s difficult to genuinely embrace a new culture and way of life. In 2013 I lived in London for the year, this July I lived in La Rochelle, France and now I’ve just moved to Montréal for an exchange at university. Whilst I’m still adjusting to my new life here, it’s really made me appreciate my previous opportunities of living abroad. So this post is dedicated to those of you who have ever thought about living abroad and I’m here to tell you why you should do it and do it now.

13480243_1334710296543982_897325311_n

It’s one thing to move, it’s another to move to another country

Sure – you may just think that if you want change, you can just move houses in your town or city, or maybe even move interstate. Sure, that’s a big thing. But at the end of the day, you have a common language, culture, and have your support network not far away.

Moving to another country, even if they speak English, is overwhelming in every sense because literally everything is new and foreign. From big things like adjusting to a new culture, way of life or new language, to the little things that we take for granted like knowing where to do grocery shopping, what phone provider to go with, how to take out the garbage or finding the best cafe on your street.

Now is this exciting or scary? I’ll leave that up to you to find out.

Nothing is familiar and you’ll look like a lost puppy

Like I said… everything is new! Back in your home city/town, you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going… all the time. You walk through the streets without even thinking twice about crossing the road. But in a new place, you’re constantly looking at street signs, hesitating about crossing the road, walking for 10minutes up the street only to realise you’re going the wrong way and having to turn around and go back.

For me this is a really big adjustment. Is admitting that I have no idea what’s going on – but that’s ok because you’re not expected to magically know everything about a new city. I guess the transition from being so sure and confident walking down the street, to literally feeling like a lost puppy looking up at street signs, is a hard one to make.

Sure it’s damn hard, but when you start to familiarise yourself with your area and begin to figure it all out, it’s such a rewarding feeling.

IMG_7646
Enter a caption

Your support network is 14hours ahead of you

Sure it’s beyond easy to keep in touch with people back home these days with the internet. But one thing the internet can’t change is time zones. Sydney is 14hours ahead of Montréal. 14 HOURS! Sydney is in the future! It’s always ‘tomorrow’ in Sydney. It’s not impossible, it’s just more difficult when you need to talk to someone.

I think this is one of the hardest things about living abroad, is that the life you had is 14 hours away. And when you don’t have someone to talk to, you have to learn to deal with your thoughts in a positive way yourself, which can at times be challenging. It gives you a unique opportunity to get to know yourself on a very personal, different and deep level. To understand your strengths and also acknowledge your weaknesses.

A new city, a new country, a new start

How often do you get to move somewhere and have a completely fresh start? You’re free to reinvent yourself in whatever way you choose! Usually when you move abroad, you don’t know many people in that city… moving to Montréal I knew of 3 people that lived here (when I moved to London, I knew 1 – my cousin). When you don’t know many people, you need to put yourself out there and say yes. By doing this, you’ll be surprised by how many people you’ll meet.

I’ve been in Montréal for just over a week now and by going out to drinks with my housemate and his friends, meeting up with girls from Facebook, or meeting some locals to take you to the best cafes in your area… I feel that I’m steadily building an awesome network of friends which I’m extremely grateful for.

IMG_8314

It will challenge you to your core

So thankfully in the few days I’ve been in Montréal this hasn’t happened yet (but I know it will come)… there will be times when everything seems too hard. When things go wrong, you don’t get paid right, you lose something important, you miss out on an important celebration back home, you spend a rainy day in your room, and get a bit lonely or homesick.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” These things are hard enough when they happen at home. Add the complexities of living in another country and it can sometimes become a lot to deal with. But it’s all of these little experiences, good and bad, that help you to become a better and stronger person. To be resilient, motivated, dedicated, strong and accepting or yourself and others around you. There’s not too many times in your life that you get to experience something like this.

IMG_8292
You never know what’s around the corner…

But why should you do it now?

I feel that the older you get, the more commitments you have, and the harder it is for you to uproot your life and move to another country. I’ve already found it significantly more challenging this time around. I think because I was so comfortable in my routine back in Wollongong. And I’m only 22! I barely have any responsibilities! Imagine when I’m 25, 28, 30, 30+… I would imagine it would only become harder with age and responsibilities.

Sure – the list above may not be all that encouraging… there’s definitely huge challenges you’ll need to overcome, there’ll be moments when you’re lonely, lost and just have no idea what’s going on. But for every challenge and difficulty there is… there’s about 50 positives. Like making lifelong friends, immersing yourself in a new culture, (sometimes) learning a new language, getting to discover new neighbourhoods, towns, cities and countries nearby… the list is endless.

So… the only real question left to ask is… where to?!

À Bientôt La Rochelle

So I can’t believe that it’s our last week already?! Just when you’re getting into the swing of things, finding a good coffee spot, riding your bike to class every morning, learning more and more phrases… it’s time to pack up and go. But before we get to that, let’s recap on my last week in beautiful La Rochelle.

IMG_7372

Class

Monday was quite different because a group of American students (the ones I went to Paris with) had returned home which left us 8 of us in the class. Monday morning we had our 20minute presentations as well! It was quite daunting because initially I thought (how am I supposed to speak for 20minutes in French?) however I chose to do my presentation on François Mitterand who was a charasmatic French President. So it was pretty cool learning about someone who made such a positive impact on the France that we know today! For those of you who didn’t know (like me) he commissioned the glass Pyramid at the Lourve! Pretty cool!

On Wednesday we got our exams back and I could immediately tell how much my French really has improved. Whilst I still have a long way to go, this program really has given me the immersion into French culture and language and has really inspired me to continue to expand my knowledge.

IMG_7014
The best meal I had in France! Freshly caught mussels home cooked!

Activities

As always, another busy week with our after school activities. We went to Musée du Nouveau Monde, (the  Museum of the New World) where we wandered through a stunning old building learning about the discovering of Montréal and Quebec.

On Wednesday afternoon we went to an Oyster and Mussels farm… and anyone who knows me, knows how much I LOVE seafood. We learnt about their family tradition of farming oysters and mussels and then she leant down into the water, grabbed an oyster, cut the top off, squeezed some lemon on top and handed it to me. I think my idea of ‘fresh seafood’ has forever been altered.

Friday was our last day of class… (sad face) and our teachers treated us to a little scavenger hunt/questionnaire around the city. Whilst we tried our hardest to answer all of the questions, for some reason all of these beautiful little boutiques, cafes and patisseries kept getting in our way. It was a great end to our 4 weeks of intense classes. When we returned, we received our certificate of completion and our marks. I passed everything, and scored 17/20 for my oral skills! I’m definitely very proud that my speaking skills are my strongest and most improved!

IMG_7230

After the program

Unlike the other girls on the program who have to return to Australia as soon as possible to start university, I’m actually going on exchange for a semester in Montreal. And because university doesn’t start there until September, I’ve got some time to kill which means… TRAVEL. And luckily for me, my Dad is joining me for 3 weeks as we venture around France, Spain and Iceland!

So on Thursday afternoon my Dad arrived in La Rochelle! It was so surreal and special for him to see the place I’ve called home for the past month. On Friday is was his birthday and Dad, along with my host mum Delphine went out for a beautiful dinner! Later on the Australian girls joined us and we drank lots of beautiful red wine and ate way too much cheese!

IMG_7330
Delphine, me and my Dad

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to the people I’ve met here has definitely been one of the hardest things I’ve done. The Australian girls became my sisters, the American students, some of my best friends and Delphine, one of the most inspirational women I’ve ever met. Let’s just say that I had to wear my sunglasses all day to hide my eyes. The most special part is that I will always have these incredible memories with the most incredible people. Maybe one day I’ll return to La Rochelle, or maybe I’ll see my friends in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Paris, London, D.C or Sydney. Wherever it is, these memories will definitely last a lifetime and I’m extremely grateful for being given such an amazing opportunity.

IMG_7355
Saying goodbye to these girls was incredibly hard

Merci et à bientôt!

Paris Is ALWAYS A Good Idea

Ooh la la… I think this week has been my favourite so far! It’s hard to believe that so many incredible experiences can even squeeze into just 7 days?!

IMG_6709
Saint-Martin on Île de Ré

Mon anniversaire! (My birthday)

Yay! It’s my birthday! And how lucky I am to get the chance to spend my 22nd birthday in beautiful La Rochelle! And I think that all of my stars aligned because scheduled for the date of my birthday, was a day trip to Île de Ré (meaning no class, and wonderful exploration times around a beautiful island). We all met at the station and hopped on a bus to Saint-Martin, one of the most picturesque and renowned towns on Île de Ré . We met our tour guide, Frédérique, for the day in Saint Martin before we started our little scavenger hunt. Between answering questions and taking photos… the first hour flew by. Then we went to le marché (the markets) to buy some food for lunch. Everything there is fresh and local produce and I had some of the best salmon I’ve ever had. We had a cute little picnic under a shady tree just relaxing and enjoying some sunshine. Actually, it was 34 degrees so A LOT of sunshine! After lunch we got on a tuk tuk (yay) and were chauffeured around to three interesting places, a soap making warehouse, a salt flat where they make salt and la piece de resistance… a chocolate factory! That one was definitely my favourite! After our long hot day, we spent the afternoon cooling down at a very cold yet beautiful beach.

After a quick shower and an espresso for some energy… we headed into La Rochelle for some dinner. It was really special to spend my birthday with my new friends at a beautiful restaurant in a beautiful part of the world.

IMG_6856
The view from my window watching the sun rise.

 

 

Cooking Class

As part of our gastronomy programme, we had two cooking classes in a local restaurant. Now I’m definitely not the best chef around, but the chef who guided us through the recipes that she created was very patient and provided a lot of guidance. The best part was when we got to eat what we created! And it was magnifique!  Then we had Joel from our Oneologie class join us to assist us match wine with the food we had created. As you could imagine, the best food with the best wine made for a match made in heaven!

IMG_6825.jpg
Aubergine tarte and chocolate cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting a French Blogger

Because my host mother – Delphine – is the coolest person in La Rochelle, she set up a dinner date with one of her friends, Anne-Laure who is a travel blogger for her website Nana Voyage. Not only was Anne-Laure incredibly friendly, interesting and gorgeous, but we talked in French the entire time! I’m so glad that I got to meet someone as lovely as Anne-Laure!

Screenshot 2016-07-26 12.34.37

Paris

For the weekend, I decided to go to Paris with my American friends from class. Sadly, they were flying out on Sunday afternoon so it was great that I got to spend as much time with them as possible before they flew out. After finding a cheap hotel and train ticket, I thought… paris is always a good idea. My weekend in Paris was one of the best weekends of my life! The five of us went on a bateau mouche which was a 1 hour river cruise down the Seine at sunset. I felt extremely blessed to be able to spend such a beautiful evening with my friends. We wandered around Montmartre and even went to see the end of the Tour de France on the Champs Elysée. It was a pretty memorable experience.

Screenshot 2016-07-26 13.48.53

IMG_6955
The Sacre Cœur has my heart 

I can’t believe that time has flown by so fast and that I’ve only got one week left! This week truly has been so special and I’m so grateful for all of the people who have helped make it that way!

This is a little teaser from my time in Paris…

 

Boats, Biscuits and Bordeaux

They say that time flies when you’re having fun. And if that’s the case then I think I’m having the absolute time of my life because the days are absolutely flying by! Week 2 held some pretty awesome things in store for us, leaving us with a jam packed week and scratching our heads on Sunday afternoon thinking where the week had disappeared to?

13767359_1049047118510126_6650748756170412168_o
Loving the streets of Bordeaux.

Class

This week has been pretty intense with coursework but it’s been extremely rewarding. I did a 10 minute presentation about a town in the South of France, and not only did I learn a lot about the cute little town of Cassis (it’s on the bucket list) but I spoke for 10 solid minutes in French?! How did that happen? I’m definitely feeling my French improve every single day and I’m extremely lucky that Delphine is so supportive and understanding when it comes to my French at home. I even gave directions to someone about how to get to a certain street in La Rochelle… in French… that was a pretty big accomplishment!

13669567_1048271491921022_4732640572535887844_n
Picturesque La Rochelle

BASTILLE DAY

I was so excited to be spending BASTILLE DAY (or Quatorze Juillet as they say in France) in FRANCE! It’s La fête nationale (national holiday) so of course we had the day off of class and went to Île de Ré to soak up the sunshine. A big group of us from my class went and we ate bread, cheese and wine on the beautiful sandy beach. Pretty much paradise! That night we all met up in the centre and La Rochelle was absolutely buzzing! There were markets, street performers and people everywhere! I watched the fireworks with a friend and it was pretty spectacular to see them explode above the iconic towers.

Sadly, that was the night that the Nice terrorist attacks happened. Luckily, there was nothing but celebrations and good times in La Rochelle however my phone quickly became flooded with concerned messages. AIM also quickly contacted us to ensure that we were safe and to reassure us that if we needed anything, they were there for us. As tragic as this event was, it really reaffirmed the belief of needing to travel and learn as much as possible about other people, culture and language so that we can unite together instead of being divided and turned against each other.

Screenshot 2016-07-25 11.38.17
My friends and I enjoying Bastille Day

Activities

This week was activity central! On Monday after class we went to the Maritime Museum. Now I’m not usually one for museums of the maritime type, but this was actually quite impressive.

Then on Tuesday afternoon we had a tour of the tours. La Rochelle is pretty impressive because of it’s complex and interesting history. One of the most defining features of La Rochelle is Tour Saint Nicholas. We were lucky enough that we had Emilie from Soupe De Co come with us. If you ever got to La Rochelle I would 110% recommend going up the top of Tour Saint Nicholas. Not only is the history fascinating, but the views are spectacular! And let’s be honest, your Instagram will love you for it.

13662143_1045912242156947_2516277316416630137_o
The beautiful view from Tour Saint Nicholas

We also had our other Oneologie class where we tasted cognac and worked on our smelling skills by trying to identify different types of flavours used in wines. Joel, who facilitates these little classes asked us about wine in Australia and we attempted to draw a map and explain the different wine regions. It was actually really interesting to put our taste buds and noses to the test to see how well we could differentiate smells. It seems that I still have some improving to do on that one!

Screenshot 2016-07-25 11.38.31
FRANCE 1

Weekend

And speaking of wine,  four of us organised a little getaway to Bordeaux. And lucky for us, we were able to score super cheap train tickets along with an awesome Airbnb! So Saturday morning we headed off to the station in La Rochelle and two hours later we were working out the tram system in Bordeaux! What an awesome city! We only spent two days there so it’s definitely somewhere I’d love to go back to one day!  I describe it as a ‘petit Paris.’ The apartment we stayed in was right in the city, close to a tram stop and just streets away from restaurant upon restaurant! We had a picnic by the cathedral and just wandered about the city. It was about 33degrees the whole weekend so it made the XXX fountain by the river that extra bit more special!

13710510_1049413405140164_8553452034739760935_o
A beautiful brasserie in BORDEAUX

Next week is also going to be a busy one so make sure to stay tuned to see what next week has in store!

 

 

 

The DO’S & DON’Ts of being a LONG DISTANCE Friend

So you’re heading off overseas and you’re excited as hell! And so you should be! What an awesome experience. But one of the things that suck about heading off on an adventure, is saying goodbye to all of your friends. And of course you want to maintain these friendships while you’re overseas. But believe it or not, even when you’re not in the country – you can still do things to annoy the hell out of your friends.A common fear is homesickness. So it’s only natural to want to keep your friends close. But you don’t want to get to the stage where you try to keep them so close that you suffocate them through their phone buzzing day and night at them. So here’s my quick little guide of what you can do, to be the best long distance friend. 

27b1f30f6fe73aeae1827669da6e5b7e
Nothing like an intimate dinner date with friends before you leave. Source

DO: Have a send off

Before you head off, have a little send off with your close friends. Whether it’s a coffee sesh , drinks or a cute little dinner date, make sure you take the time to tell your friends how much they mean to you and how much you’re going to miss them. You can also take this time to share your excitement and fears. When you’re all on the same page before you’re about to leave, you’ll be much more prepared (mentally) and feel a sort of closure, a sense that you know your friends will be there for you.

Don’t: Over Message

This is probably the biggest point! We already know how annoying it is when that one friend just doesn’t stop messaging you, so why would it change anything when you’re overseas? By over messaging, not only are you going to push your friends away, but you’re going to make them think that you’re not making the most out of the opportunity you’ve got.

8442512b9ad38756d7103ccc16e63c27
Source

DO: Look for alternatives ways to communicate

Get off of Facebook messenger and get creative! Look into Skype, Whatsapp and Viber. One of my friends and I use Whastapp to record messages and send to one another. It’s so much fun because when you listen to a message you’ve received, it feels like your friend is sitting there with you. Or go back to basics with a pen and paper. Make a cute card, write a letter or send a postcard. Whatever it is – just don’t stick with your basic messenger because that ‘ding’ sound will get very old very quick.

DON’T: Overshare your selfies

This is a hard one because of course you’re going to want to share your adventures with your friends. But there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing the same selfie face in front of a different landmark. Get creative with what you share – there’s so much out there! Instagram is my go to photo sharing site because it allows your to get creative and you can share as much as you want – it’s Instagram! Experiment with apps like Boomerang, Snapchat, Blogging or 1SE. Remember, you want to have things to talk about when you get back. Get creative, share something interesting and enjoy the moment you’re in!

12321504_981590661922439_8500271078517606288_n
Best friends are there through it all.

THINGS TO NOTE:

It’s not all about you. Remember that your friends back home still have to deal with life’s many problems. Don’t forget that they may need to lean on you for advice and support just as much as you might need them. At the end of the day, that’s what friendship is right?

Be open to change. Naturally if you spend time away from home, things are going to change. And so will your friendships. You win some, you lose some, and those that matter will be there through it all.

So, I hope this helps you be the best friend you can be whilst you’re on your adventures overseas making new friends and keeping your friends back home!

 

 

 

Why ROAD TRIPS Will Always Be The Best Type of Travel

I was lucky enough to recently be sent on an epic road trip for work (I know… what a job?!). Whilst we did work really hard during the days, leaving me absolutely exhausted by the end of my trip, it was also a great experience to see some pretty epic places. My little road trip took me to Tamworth, Newcastle, Maitland, Port Stephens (home), Port Macquarie & Coffs Harbour. I was lucky enough to travel with two awesome guys that I also work with, along with eating amazing food at amazing places, belt out some great songs and take some awesome pictures. This little adventure reminded me of why road trips will always be the best type of travel!

Screenshot 2016-05-29 18.59.28.png
Abdul and I on the first leg of our road trip. Wollongong –> Tamworth.

You get to see all of the sites

You can just see so much more by road! Sure – highways aren’t that exciting, but as soon as you take an exit, you drive through towns you’ve never heard of and see the landscape change as you rack up the kilometres.

Screenshot 2016-05-29 18.59.46
Seeing the sites of the Golden Guitar at Tamworth.

There’s nothing holding you back

Unlike travelling by plane, train or bus, you don’t have to worry about timetables or schedules, worrying about where or when your stop is or making sure you arrive early…. not with a car! It’s as simple as grabbing the keys and hitting the gas!

Screenshot 2016-05-29 19.00.03
Not holding back those yoga skills 

You choose the music, and you choose the decibel you want it at!

By far the best thing about road tripping is the music you choose as the soundtrack to your adventures! Whilst Triple J will get you a long way, it’s one of the commandments of road tripping – ‘thou must provide solid beats.’ There’s nothing better than cruising down the highway and belting out some bangers!

Screenshot 2016-05-29 19.00.34.png
Attempting to surf in Coffs Harbour. 

You can alternate drivers 

If you love a good nap but don’t want to fall victim to prying, judgemental eyes when you fall asleep in public, then snoozing off in the car is perfect for you! You can put the seat back, cuddle up to a pillow and have the snooze of a lifetime. Or, if you’ve got stuff to do (hello uni work!) you can sit back and get your reading/essay/blogs done!

Screenshot 2016-05-29 19.00.17.png
Friends you make whilst on the road! Enjoying lunch in Maitland.

Road trips make the ultimate friends

At the end of the day, the people you road trip with become pretty awesome friends! You have to put up with each other’s bad singing, confusing directions, snoring in the car and downing take away coffees on the go – that’s a recipe for some ultimate friendship bonding right there!

Road trips will always inspire spontaneity, motivate you to get up early and just go! I can’t wait to have many more road trip adventures to come.

You can check out the highlights to my road trip here! 

 

Review: Airbnb in MELBOURNE

In a world where hostels are too crowded and hotels are too boring, the internet has given us Airbnb. For those of you who have been living under a rock, then I’m about to make your 2016 even better. Airbnb is an amazing website which allows for a truly unique travelling experience. You choose the place you’re going, punch in some dates, adjust the price range per night and voilà! It gives you so many different options, from a room in a house or apartment to the entire house and apartment! If you’re staying somewhere where your host is also living, it allows you to really immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle of the place that you are staying. Or if you opt for the entire place and share it with some friends, it gives you so much freedom to explore and do what you want to do.

IMG_0160
Our beautiful Airbnb apartment! 

So… my friends and I were planning to spend New Years Eve in Melbourne and we were looking at accommodation. Hotels were crazy expensive per night per person, and hostels just didn’t seem ideal. Then we came across this listing on Airbnb. A beautiful 2 bedroom apartment in central Melbourne. We contacted the host, Mel, who was extremely prompt in replying. We agreed on a price, we paid and we were booked in. Upon arrival we were blown away with the quality of the place we were staying. Across from Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and we could see Hosier Lane from our window. The place was beautifully decorated (and even came with some beer in the fridge). There were board games and DVD’s and when we were a bit worse for wear in the morning, we would lay on the fold out lounges that were incredibly comfortable. With such a perfect location and amazing people to spend my time with – we had the ultimate getaway. Though I believe our time was only so amazing after some solid planning. So here’s what I recommend doing when booking with Airbnb so that your time can be as amazing as ours!

IMG_0157
A list of sites and things to do in Melbourne. 

Do’s

  • Read the reviews. Airbnb asks people that stay at a property to review it. After you finish your stay they bombard you with emails reminding you to leave a review which is a win win situation. You get to read the review your host left you, plus add what you loved and what you thought could be better (if there’s anything). Reading the reviews are absolutely essential to secure the right place for you.
  • Contact the host. You’ll be staying at their property so make sure to carry yourself in a mature manner. If you’ve got any questions about the property, now’s your time to ask.
  • Google Maps It. Look up the location on Google Maps to ensure you’re in a good location. Look for famous landmarks or central areas.
  • Read the house rules. Generally each property has their own ‘house rules.’ This may include information like where to pick the key up, how to operate the air conditioning/pull out loungs, where you can and can’t smoke and if it’s ok to have parties. We were staying in a residential building so of course we couldn’t throw a wild party. It’s important to read these to make sure you get the right place for you.

Don’ts

  • Break the house rules. If they say ‘no smoking,’ then don’t smoke. If it says do the dishes before leaving, then do the dishes. This is out of respect to the property owner, and to ensure you don’t incur any cleaning or damage fees.
  • Try to squeeze more people into a space. The number of people the property sleeps is set at that for a reason. Any more and you’re at risk of breaking something or getting kicked out. Just be honest and I’m sure they’ll be able to accommodate your needs.
IMG_0178
The view from our window. Hello Melbourne!

In Conclusion… Our 4 nights away in Melbourne was made more spectacular by us staying in such a beautiful apartment. It was honestly worth every cent and I’d highly recommend it to anyone with a group of 4-6 people looking for a great location.

If you want to stay at this apartment, you can enquire with the host here. 

IMG_0239