What Would Samantha Do? Ultimate Beach Essentials This Summer!

Summer may be coming to an end in Australia, but it doesn’t mean we have to give up the beach just yet. As many of you beach lovers already know, we’re pretty lucky here in Australia and can go to the beach pretty much all year round. Yep – even in Winter (on a nice sunny day). Regardless of when you’re heading to the beach, there’s a few essentials I’ve come to realise I absolutely cannot go without. Getting some blogging inspiration from Tripping.com – I thought I would put these together into an ultimate beach survival guide for wherever you are in the world. If you’re by a beach, then you’re pretty damn lucky.

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Sunscreen 

Being a red head with very pale and sensitive skin, I absolutley cannot leave the house with SPF 50+ To some of you, this may be a bit excessive, but with my skin, I just can’t risk it. Even if you’re not prone to sunburn, you should always slip, slop, slap! Because let’s be honest, you don’t want to be one of those ladies who’s skin looks like it’s turned to leather now do you?!

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Fabulous Hat

Think Samantha from Sex & the City, in this case, bigger is definitely better. Not only do hats look trés à la mode, but (again) they’re perfect for sun safety. It’s a win wine. And just think, you’d make Samantha ever so proud!

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Source

GoPro

If you’re more into an action packed beach visit, then you absolutely must pack your GOPRO! I got my hands on a GoPro Hero+ last year and every time I go to the beach I love to take it. It’s such a fun way to capture photos and moments without stressing about ruining your phone. Plus, you never know what you’re going to see under the water!

Here’s a little clip of when I took my GoPro rock hopping with some friends.

Water

If you’re planning on spending a big day at the beach, you’ll get warm, sweaty and extremely dehydrated. I always take a huge bottle of ice cold water with me to quench that thirst. Plus, you’ll be able to get rid of that sand when it inevitably gets everywhere!

Super cute swimsuit

OK let’s be honest, the best part about prepping for beach season, is shopping for swimsuits. I picked this one up in Santa Monica right before my Hawaii trip (because Hawaii, enough said). I absolutely freakin love the colour, it’s a beautiful deep green which makes my hair look super red. The cut really flatters my body and I love the cut out and low back. If you’re looking for some new swimmers, you can check out Urban Outfitters where I got mine from. Another place I love to look is on ASOS!

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Urban Outfitters swimsuit. You can find it here. 

Book

If someone asked me to describe my perfect afternoon, it would be laying under an umbrella, on soft warm sand, with some watermelon, a coffee and a good book. There’s honestly nothing quite like sitting on the beach and burying your mind into the pages of a good book. At the moment I’m reading ‘I wouldn’t start from here’ by Andrew Mueller, an Australia/British war correspondent who shares his experiences from across the world. The pages are absolutely filled with sand (and sorry to my friend Dylan who kindly lent it to me), but I’ve read the majority of this book on the beach. It’s absolute bliss!

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So what are you waiting for? Get your ass down to the beach this very moment! Is there anything else that you have to bring with you? Let me know in the comments below

 

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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

Bienvenue à La Rochelle

The time is finally here! I’m fulfilling a life long dream of spending Summer in France! So let’s rewind a tiny bit… I just finished my French minor at university, and whilst studying French for two years was of course useful, I found it really difficult when it came to speaking with French people. After talking to some friends and doing my research, I realised that the only way to really improve my French skills is to go to France myself and fully immerse myself in the language, culture and lifestyle.

And that’s where AIM Overseas comes in. They are an organisation that provide unique study abroad opportunities for students to gain academic credit in their field of study in amazing parts of the world. And whilst scrolling away, I came across an intensive French program in a seaside town in La Rochelle. I first thought, where the heck is La Rochelle? And secondly, where do I sign up? This all happened in December, 2015. Fast forward to the 3rd of July 2016 and I was touching down in the beautiful town of La Rochelle. 

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Le port de La Rochelle

ARRIVING

I managed to get a super cheap flight from London to La Rochelle and it was a huge piece of mind knowing that my host-mother would be there to pick me up. Through this program, we have the unique experience of living with a host family (a way to really put our French skills to the test). My host family consists of Delphine, my host mother, and Laura (but more about her later). There was absolutely no messing around when it came to speaking French. I could basically hear the cogs in my brain frantically churn as I tried to remember conjugation, vocab and expressions. Ooh la la…

We threw my huge suitcase in the car and were off to her apartment, located in the centre of La Rochelle. I have my own beautiful room, in a beautiful apartment, with beautiful flowers, beautiful photos and two beautiful cats. Basically, I spent the whole evening saying ‘c’est beau!’ Delphine and I get along really well! Not only has she lived an extremely interesting life, but she’s super helpful, patient and encouraging when it comes to my French. That evening she showed me where to catch the bus from and around the port. I’m so grateful that Delphine showed me around and made me feel so welcome on my first day because the first day is hard, I’m not going to lie. There’s so many words and thoughts running around your head, but it’s reassuring to know that your host family is there for you!

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Le pain et un grand sourire

CLASSES

Before you start classes, we took a little test so that we were put in the class that corresponded with our level of French. I’m glad we did have that exam because I was worried I would struggle with the content. In my class, there are students from Virginia and Washington DC, China and Oklahoma. I’m the only Australian, but it’s great because I get to meet people from all over! Classes start at 8:30am and go until 12:45pm (with a 20 minute coffee break in the middle). Our teacher is also very patient and supportive. In class the activities we do vary from grammar, reading, listening, watching news clips, doing small presentations or playing hangman.

LUNCH

Probably the most important part of the day is LUNCH! This week varied from buying crepes by the port, to making sandwiches at home, to hitting up the supermarchés and buying food for a little picnic. We get about 2 hours for lunch which is a perfect amount of time to enjoy some to die for food and soak up some sun.

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Les autres étudientes australiennes 

ACTIVITIES

The best thing (so far) about this program is that it’s not just all about learning the language. It’s about the culture, history, food and people as well. On our first afternoon, we toured the university to get our bearings. Then we had an early mark and went on a mission to find ice cream! (The ice cream here is amazing!)

On day two we had a guided tour of La Rochelle – all in French. The best part is when you actually understand what the guide is saying… it’s how you know that you’re already starting to get the hang of it. It was great to learn about this complicated and fascinating history of this place! And even better to snap lots of photos!

Throughout the week I also watched France beat Germany in the Euro 16 and saw just how much France LOVE their football, spent every afternoon at the beach, ate at least 3 baguettes, hired a bike for the month, ate 1 more baguette, went exploring the town and improved my French tenfold!

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Mon vélo pour le mois

GASTRONOMY

So when I said this program is also about the culture, history, food and people…. I mainly meant food. Another girl in the AIM program and I are taking the ‘gastronomy’ course, where we learn about the art of French cuisine, wine, cognac, cooking….. do I need to say more? It’s all centred around food. We had a bit of an introduction to our Gastronomy class this week where we talked about ‘the art of setting a table’ and also discussed various regions in France and their famous products. We then got to taste Galette, which is a simple yet delicious cake like dessert which is special to the region of La Rochelle! If I return to Australia 10kgs heavier, I will have no regrets because everything here is DELICIEUX!

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Le centre ville

OTHER EVENTS

On Sunday, Delphine took me on a cute little picnic to Île de Ré, a quaint island about 20 minutes from La Rochelle, connected to the mainland by a huge bridge! We went swimming at two beautiful beaches, went exploring a little village called Ars-en-Ré, and the markets there. We then had a magnificent picnic on the beach complete with 2 different types of baguettes, 2 types of cheese, melon and hot coffee.

That evening Laura arrived, (remember the girl I was talking about earlier?). She’s from Columbia and she’s studying French at another place in La Rochelle. She will be living with Delphine for 2 months so I’m excited to get to know her over the next month while I’m still here! And maybe learn some Spanish!

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Delphine et moi allons mangé une pique-nique

This first week has absolutely flown by! My mind is exploding with French but I feel myself improving bit by bit and day by day. I make lots of mistakes but my confidence is growing and that’s the most important thing! Can’t wait to see what this week holds!

My Epic Travel Plans: JUNE – AUGUST

“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.”

After putting some plans into action, I can finally reveal to you my incredibly exciting plans for the next few months! One of the best things about travel is planning. And one of the other good things is actually making these plans come to life! Now, it’s just a matter of time.

24th June: Sydney -> Manila (one night stopover)

25th June: Manila -> London (I’m back baby!)

26th June – 3rd July: LONDON! I’m talking visiting old friends, visiting my old house, my old local pub and my old stomping ground which is East London. I’m also talking visiting friends that I haven’t seen for years, and visiting places I didn’t get to go when I was there in 2013.

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Hamstead Heath, London. One of my favourite places. Source

3rd July – 29th July – La Rochelle, France. So I’m spending a month in France doing an AIM Overseas Short Course. For 4 weeks I’ll be living, learning and breathing everything French. I’ll be studying French language every morning, and be doing cultural activities like tasting wine and cheese in the afternoon. This is where I’ll be for Bastille Day and my birthday! I’m a little nervous because I haven’t studied French for the past 6 months but I think there’s only one way to learn… and that’s do as the French do.

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The beautiful streets of La Rochelle! Source

29th July – 12th August: Roadtrip/Epic Adventures! I don’t have any locked in plans as of yet, but that’s always fun, just to wing it a little and see where I end up. I may go north to Rennes, Mont St Michel or Dinan. I may go south to Toulouse, Bayonne and end up in Spain in San Sebastian. Or I may go south east and go to Nice, Cannes and through to Italy. Wherever I go and whoever I’m with, I know I’ll have an awesome time!

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San Sebastian, Spain… who knows where I’ll end up? Source

12th August – 18th August: ICELAND! I am beyond ridiculously excited to go back to Iceland! I was there in Winter of 2014 where I nearly froze to death. This year, I’ll be returning in Summer (where it’s still likely to be cold) but nonetheless… I’m determined to get out there and discover all that this unique country has to offer. I’m planning on visiting friends, chasing waterfalls and swimming in natural thermal hot springs! Watch out Iceland!

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Akureyri, Iceland. Source

18th August —- MONTREAL! As of the 18th of August, I’ll be in Montreal. I’ll be here until late December as an exchange student at the University of Concordia! A part from having to organise where I’m going to be living during this time, everything is coming together nicely and I freakin’ cannot wait!

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Cannot wait to explore French Canada! Source 

And from there, who knows? But hey, I think that’s the best part!

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: FEBRUARY

February. You graced us with an extra day this month, and it still wasn’t long enough. This month was full on! With work being absolutely crazy and uni starting back, February was pretty damn intense! However I learnt a pretty valuable lesson this month. Because life was so damn hectic, I ran myself down to the ground! For the first time in years I got a cold sore. What the heck?! And not only that, but it stayed for three whole weeks! Three weeks! I took so many vitamins, used lots of different creams and tried my hardest not to touch it, but it just wouldn’t leave. And along with having a cold sore, I constantly felt fatigued and found it difficult to concentrate when at work. My body was screaming at me to just calm down and take a breather for a day. It felt horrible and it’s not something I want to go through again. This just made me realise how we need to look after our bodies, and when we need time out, we need to be strong enough to say so. Alright, enough about that. Here’s some of the things that got me through the craziest and shortest month of the year.

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Diary Goals. Source

My Diary

So I finally got around to buying myself a diary. I used to always write in a diary, however for some reason I just stopped writing. It’s something that I’ve always loved doing. So with February being a pretty stressful month, I thought I would suck it up and finally just buy a diary and get writing. The best thing is that the diary I bought doesn’t have lines. So I’ve experimented with some little drawings here and there too. Watch this space for more reasons why I absolutely love keeping a diary. I honestly can’t explain how beneficial and amazing keeping a diary is, so I’ll fill it in later.

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Speaking to 1200 year 12 students. No big deal.

Being a Keynote Speaker at Discovery Days

I wrote about my experience and what I learnt here. Quick run down – I spoke to over 6000 students over 5 days spreading my word and trying to spread some happiness and inspiration to some truly incredible kids. It was one of the scariest, exciting yet nerve racking experiences of my life.

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These lot! From left to right it’s Nicola, Tiger, Me and Chantelle!

Moving into a new apartment with new and awesome people.

This session, I’m living at the same residence but in a different section (a much nicer and cleaner section). I was so excited to move into a new place, but slightly nervous about who I would be living with. And as soon as they moved in, it was love at first sight! I’m living in a four share apartment with Nicola (Graphic Design student), Tiger (Engineering student – and yes… his name is really Tiger), and Sam (Medical Health Science Student). Plus we’ve adopted a few more housemates who practically live with us too! And I’m so happy that my old housemate Chantelle is one of them. Overall, I’m living with some pretty awesome people! #imagine #thedream

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Greatest roomies!

Sunrises and Waterfalls

So you probably already know I’m not the best morning person around, however I’m trying to change that. And after moving in with my new housemates, I’m not really getting much of an option. I’ve spent two mornings up at 5:30am to watch the sunrise and go for an early morning swim.  We also spent a day a day at Macquarie Pass (just half an hour from Wollongong) and it was such a beautiful way to spend a day off!

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Spending a day jumping off rocks and sliding down waterfalls at Macquarie Pass. For more photos check out my Instagram @aworldlyaddiction

More 21st’s

Again, 2016 is the year of 21st birthday parties! I went to my friend of 10 years 21st in Newcastle! It was so good to see her and everyone from back home! I also went to my other friends 21st who had a decked out bar tab in Wollongong. It was great to spend time with people I only see occasionally and have a free flow of beer! Thanks heaps to Mollie and Audi for the amazing parties and even better memories! Keep up the parties guys!

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Myself, Chantelle and Elly prepping for Mollie’s birthday in Newcastle!
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Audi’s 21st! Instagram frame and all!

Books

I read Escape From Camp 14 this month and I wrote a review about it here.

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Tunes

I have absolutely been LOVING Claptone this month! The perfect chilled out yet get pumped music!

Blogs and Vlogs

I’ve really been digging Hey Nadine. I’ve been wanting to watch a few more female vloggers and eventually want to move beyond watching just travel vloggers and watching people who vlog about important social issues. But I particularly like this video because there’s a few different travel vloggers talking about the pros and cons of female solo travel.

Quote

“Seek respect, not attention. It lasts longer.” 

This past month I saw some pretty horrible acts of attention seeking. It’s fake and everyone can see right through it. People are attracted to other people who are confident and true to themselves. Not people who act how they think they should. This quote has showed me the importance of self respect and respect for others, and to always be conscious of the long term effects of decisions you make now.

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And so concludes the month that was February. Uni has started and of course I’ve got plenty of things to keep me busy so I’m really looking forward to what march has to offer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Lovin’ (The Best Things About Summer in Australia)

It’s officially Summer here in Australia and I couldn’t be more excited! There’s parties to go to, people to see, food to eat (and lots of it), places to go… it’s just three months of sunshine and good times! I missed out on an Aussie Summer last year (instead, spent the majority of it Eastern Europe and Iceland in the middle of Winter), so here’s the things I’m most looking forward to this Sun Season!

Taking some Australian traditions to London
Taking some Australian traditions to London

Fresh and Delicious Fruit – Mangoes, watermelon, honeydew, grapes, bananas, pineapple, strawberries… with a bit of muesli and a drizzle of honey, it makes for the perfect summer snack! And speaking of fresh fruit, try cutting the top off of a watermelon and pouring in some Midori and Malibu… perfect for an afternoon spent on the beach with a few drinks. Hey, at least it’s healthy!

The Beach – What is Summer without spending the majority of it at the beach! My hometown is the perfect place to do this, with over 10 pristine beaches located within a 10 minute drive from my house (and one across the road). Just remember to Slip, Slop, Slap, drink plenty of water and be prepared for sand to be EVERYWHERE!

Australia Day with mates
Australia Day with mates

Christmas – Yes, in Australia Christmas is in the middle of Summer, and it’s brilliant! A typical Christmas day for me involves being woken up at some ghastly hour by my younger brother and sister, opening presents, giving presents, snacking on some chocolate, and saving our stomaches for a big lunch at Grandma and Grandad’s house with the whole family! After our food babies settle down, we duck down to the beach and soak up the sun. It’s a pretty brilliant way to spend Christmas!

It’s hot – OK so sometimes this can be the bad thing about Summer. I’m a red headed girl with a pale complexion, I was not made for 40+ degree days. A nice 28-30 degrees is perfect for me!

Never gets old
Never gets old

Minimal clothing is totally acceptable – When you’ve got a scorcher of a day, it’s completely acceptable to walk around in your bikini everywhere. Minimal clothing is great, especially when checking out all the hotties at the beach, until some 60 year old men decide to wear their speedos and your eyes a permanently scarred.

I get a tan – Ok, by tan I mean all my freckles come out. Even though I’m constantly reminded of how white I am, I can see I’ve got a fair bit of a tan going on (if I squint really hard and don’t forget to apply my tanning moisturiser).

Sunsets are beautiful
Sunsets are beautiful

New Years Eve – I love New Years Eve in Australia! Don’t need to take a jacket out, everyone’s drinking ice cold beers, we go out on a friends boat, watch the fireworks and then go for a midnight swim.

Australia Day – Australia Day is on the 26th of January and is generally celebrated at the beach or a friends house with a pool, listening to Triple J’s top 100 countdown, drinking beer and hanging out with good friends!

Everyone’s happy – It’s Summer, what’s there not to be happy about!

xxx A