Bye for now

Last night I said goodbye to the country I’ve spent the past seven and a half months in. Australia, you were too darn good to me. I will miss so much about that great country but I am also thrilled to finally be starting a new adventure in Southeast Asia.

James and I spent the past week in Melbourne after our Tasmania trip and got to catch up with friends, and have a comfortable place to crash while we got organized and prepared to leave the country. We did some sightseeing here and there, especially on my birthday when we toured pretty much all of Melbourne, but also did some necessary chilling before we started hostel jumping for a while. It was good to catch up with camp friends and friends I met while in Brisbane to share our last few meals, drinks and laughs together for a while. I’m looking forward to staying in touch and updated on their own adventures.

Now I find myself at the Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia. I am already experiencing a bit of culture shock from the bathroom situation to the different language but I also feel a kind of exhilaration I haven’t felt since first landing in New Zealand and Australia. Being here has me so excited to get to Bangkok and actually explore my first Asian city.

For my Asian travels, I will be setting up a new blog that I hope will inspire people even more than this one did. Traveling has become more than just a hobby for me during this past year- it has become a lifestyle. That’s why I want to share more than my personal experiences and pictures, but rather more of the lessons I’m learning from them. The opportunity to reflect on every unique and incredible experience I had in Australia is something I am grateful for, and I hope that was apparent in my posts. Thanks for an incredible ride and see you on the other side 🙂

Love,

Anni in Aussie.

Tasmania

On April 4, James and I landed in Hobart, Tasmania to begin our last adventures in Australia before our journey to Southeast Asia. On the plane over, I was more focused on the adventures ahead me, rather than the adventures is Brisbane and Queensland I was leaving behind. Of course I felt a bit of nostalgia knowing I wouldn’t be going back to Brisbane any time soon, but I  was distracted from a lot of those feelings thinking of all I was about to explore.

Every bit of Tasmania was stunning. From the view from the top of a mountain to the landscape along the interstate into a main city, it had a unique feeling about it and had endless scenery to enjoy.

Hobart, TAS

Our first day in Hobart turned out to be the most adventurous as we didn’t have a place to stay booked for the night and figured we would “wing it” when we got there and were able to evaluate our options a bit better. We wanted to camp and explore a remote national park outside of Hobart, which prompted the decision to not book a place for the first couple nights, but of course there was no guarantee of what would actually end up happening.

After catching a shuttle bus into the city and talking to a nice young lady at the hostel we had booked in a couple days, we decided to stock up on food and head to Mt. Wellington, the mountain overlooking Hobart, to start hiking toward a camping spot for the night. A bus driver dropped us off at the closest point to Mt. Wellington he could and then we began walking up the mountain from there, lugging huge backpacks and all. I guess I had never really stopped to think about what we were actually getting ourselves into  – climbing up a mountain with huge backpacks and no tent to find a place to sleep for the  night – before we went for it because all of sudden, right after we started the walk up, I thought “Oh shoot, this is gonna be tough.” But alas, we climbed on!

We found a relatively flat, open area eventually and set up our camp there – which consisted of an eno in replacement of a tent. Yes, Tasmania is cold and yes it was not the smartest decision to camp on a mountain in Tassie without a tent but because we’re on a traveler’s budget, we sucked it up and went for it. Thankfully, James has a really warm sleeping bag we were both able to squeeze into and plenty of clothes with us to layer. We both survived the night, not without some discomfort and shivering, but we did survive.

The next morning we packed up our camp and walked up the last, and hardest stretch, of the mountain track to the top of Mt. Wellington. Not going to lie, there was a moment I wanted to cry because of the steepness of the track combined with the weight of my huge backpack but once we made it up, I was so thankful we had made the journey. The view was incredible and the accomplished feeling after all our hard work over the past 24 hours was extremely rewarding. After we cooked some food and took some pictures, we caught a ride down the mountain to hopefully book another night at the hostel- one night of cold, tent-less camping was enough for us.

Top of Mt. Wellington

We had success booking another night at the hostel so after cleaning up and relaxing a bit, we went for a walk around Hobart and were able to catch some amazing views during sunset. The sky was lit up in pastel colors, with pinks and purples above the blue water.

The next day we took the ferry to the world-renowned MONA, Museum of Old and New Art. Owned and designed by billionaire David Walsh, the building is a work of art itself and features some of the most unique exhibits I have ever experienced. The museum is laid out almost like cave, with all the floors of art underground, making your brain work a little harder just to navigate through it. It features very bold artwork and has very suggestive meanings towards all its pieces. What I thought was interesting about it is that there are no descriptions by any of the pieces- the only way to know who the artist behind a piece is or what the meaning behind it is, is to read the summary or listen to the audio with headphones on the iPhone they give each person when they enter. This makes for a very futuristic, exotic experience when combined with all of the interactive and bold works of art it has to offer. Definitely a must-do if you find yourself in Hobart.

We topped off that day with a lovely visit with a girl named Grace who Leslie and I had met during one of our first weekends in Australia at Surfer’s Paradise. She was taking a random holiday in Hobart for the week so we decided to meet up at one of Hobart’s iconic pubs, called The Republic, and have a drink. She has been working and traveling all over the East Coast of Australia since we met her so it was fun to catch up and share a drink together after so much time had passed.

Campervan Time!

Our first day with the campervan was exciting and freeing- we were so ready to get out of the city and start seeing the wild side of Tasmania. The campervan was the perfect size and had everything we needed to do loads of sightseeing,  sleep comfortably, and cook up some pasta and tuna meals.

On day one we made our way to the Tasman Peninsula, only about an hour from Hobart, making plenty of stops along the road to snap pictures and admire the views. A few of the places we stopped at were Pirate’s Bay, the Tasman Arch and the Port Arthur Historic Site. Contrary to our belief that Port Arthur was a some kind of cute coastal town, it was just the historic site itself which costs more than a traveler’s budget amount to get into so we moved on from there straight to Fortescue Bay in Tasman National Park.

Pirate’s Bay

Fortescue Bay required us to drive down a long, narrow sandy road for about 30 mins., with our fingers crossed that it would be worth it. It was in the end and we found ourselves with a lovely spot to camp at, with several cool walking tracks going from the campsite. The walk we did that afternoon went along the bay and up the headlands to another bay, giving us some gorgeous views and a closer look at Tasmanian vegetation and landscape features. We finished it off with a gorgeous sunset by the water, again filled with pink and purple hues that lit up the sky and blended in beautifully with the soft, teal-colored water.

Canoe Bay Track at Fortescue Bay

Day two brought us to the start of the Great Eastern Drive, leading us to some incredible coastal views along the way. We eventually reached Kate’s Berry Farm, where we pulled over the campervan and enjoyed some amazing  tasting lavender ice cream with a view of the coast. What a treat.

Lavender ice cream at Kate’s Berry Farm

Next stop was Freycinet Marine Farm because everyone told us Tasmania has amazing seafood so we splurged on an arrangement of oysters and grilled salmon- expensive but worth it. I’ve never had fresher oysters in my life.

Finally we made it to Freycinet National Park, one of Tasmania’s most famous trademarks. Driving in we were blown away by the beauty of the huge rock formations and several bays, each with a unique and incredible view. Here we did the Wineglass Bay walk, taking us to the lookout as well as Wineglass Beach. The lookout was tourist infested but the beach was much more peaceful and was a great place to admire the beauty of Freycinet from. We sat there and enjoyed our surroundings before eventually mustering up the courage to make the climb back up.

Wineglass Bay

Freycinet National Park

Afterwards, we stopped at Honeymoon Bay on the way to find a campsite because we noticed the sun setting directly over the water. What an insane sunset. The sky was lit up in all kinds of color and the lighting from the setting of the bright sun made for some unbelievable photos. I was in complete awe of the beauty of Freycinet as the sun was setting and we were driving away. The pictures will never do it justice but I’ll always remember it as one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen.

We began our last day with the campervan by driving up to the Cape Tourville Lighthouse in Freycinet. We took in our last views of the national park from there, and then took off from there.  It was a rainy and dreary day, mostly consisting of driving north to catch the ferry . The highlight was when we stopped in the coastal town, Bicheno, and backed the campervan into a spot facing the water to cook and eat lunch. It was a lovely little town- one of those you picture when reading a story about an old fisherman and his boat.

That evening we eventually arrived in Devonport to catch the Spirit of Tasmania ferry over to Melbourne with the campervan. It was exciting for both of us as we had never taken a vehicle on a ferry before. We each got our own key for the recliner lounge, where we were to sleep and had access to several different lounges, bars and gaming rooms that passengers were able to enjoy before heading to sleep. I enjoyed a beer and James had a pizza on the top deck as the ferry left Tasmania before heading to the lounge. It wasn’t an easy sleep since there was a storm creating huge swells and a rocky ride but it was definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. Before we knew it we were driving the campervan off the ferry and onto the mainland again…

I’m so thankful that I got the chance to explore such a beautiful, remote land, literally at the end of the world. It was so untouched compared to anywhere else I’ve been so to see such open landscape and striking features on one island was truly remarkable and something I won’t forget.

Love,

Anni

Reflections

Assuming this will be my last post written from Brisbane, I am feeling a bit nostalgic and nervous. Nervous because I realize this place has become a second home to me, it being the longest I have been based in a city other than my hometown and college town, which was a day trip away from my hometown. It’s pretty wild when you think about it- my first big move was to Brisbane, Australia. How random??? But that’s what I love about it 🙂

In just four days, James and I will fly from the “city of bridges” (I gave it that name when I first got here because of all the bridges it has connecting the city over the river), down to the mystic Tasmania to begin our backpacking adventure that will lead us to a whole different wonder itself, Southeast Asia.

Brisbane won’t be forgotten easily though. It has become a home- encompassing everything from good friends to host families, and rainy, lazy days to thrilling adventures. I’ve been here long enough to have developed my own life style here. Even with an accent difference, I have turned my position within this city from the lost “backpacker” to the girl you ask for directions, and can answer you without hesitation. It’s been pretty incredible to see that happen in a country across the world, away from most of who and what I know.

These last couple of weeks we’ve been getting organized and having our last outings in the city when we’re not working. Last Friday, Leslie, James and I went to our first rugby game at Suncorp Stadium to cheer for Brisbane’s most popular team, the Broncos. The atmosphere was pretty much what I expected with “bogan” Aussies, mostly male, rushing into their favorite team’s game fired up and smiling, beer in hand. We spent the first part of the game watching intently and trying to figure out the rules but eventually just started exploring the stadium while getting discounted beers from a girl James works with. After the game, we stormed the bars of Caxton Street, a street filled with bars, next to the stadium and had a blast dancing around and drinking with a bunch of rugby-crazy Aussies.

On Saturday, we got back at it and went out to the Valley to catch a DJ set by Cosmo’s Midnight. My boss met James and I there, and definitely kept the energy up for us. We had a great night dancing away at TBC Club.

Right now I’m writing during Cyclone Debbie, a storm that hit north Queensland but is causing a lot of rain down here in southeast Queensland. It started raining yesterday afternoon and hasn’t stopped. Although there are some flash flooding warnings and schools/businesses were closed, everything seems to be under control.


And here I am now, a day later, finishing up this post that  I had to pause writing because the power went out immediately after I noted “everything seems to be under control.” The irony…

Anyway, things are happening fast here with our Brisbane chapter closing and our backpacking journey beginning. Tonight the 4059 crew (Red Hill housemates) is hosting a going away party for the Americans (James, Leslie and I). It’ll be our last hurrah and hopefully big night out here in Brissy for a while. I’m excited to celebrate with most of the people I’ve come to know as good friends during my time here and have the chance to say my goodbyes in true Aussie fashion. Let the games begin!

Love,

Anni

Preparing to leave Brissy

In just over two weeks, James, Leslie and I will be packing our bags and leaving behind the people and place that has made Australia home for the past seven months (three months for James). I can’t believe it’s already time to start preparing to leave Brisbane as it feels like yesterday when Leslie and I were at the South Bank River Quay talking about our future adventures we’d have in and around Brisbane, and what it would feel like to leave. But of course that is a story as old as time right?

Leslie will be heading straight back to the U.S. to reunite with family and friends while James and I will trek on to Tasmania, Melbourne and then SE Asia for three more months. Lately we’ve been planning, budgeting and preparing for our travels while trying to fit in our last experiences in Brisbane and Queensland for a while. There are always those bucket list places and activities leftover when you realize you’ve run out of time and/or money but  overall I feel confident that I made the most of every week here and feel content leaving with what I’ve accomplished to see and do. Australia is a beautiful country with an infinite number of places to enjoy and explore. I am so blessed to have seen as much of it as I have and look forward to hopefully seeing more one day!

Finishing up our last douse of Queensland road trips, this past weekend Leslie and I escaped the city to Noosa for the last time in her host mom’s car to spend our last bit of time in our home away from home away from home, thanks to Olivia and her family. I feel so lucky we were able to enjoy beautiful Noosa so often- such a great place to have had to go when we wanted an escape to the coast. I definitely won’t forget the gorgeous teal water, the view from the top of the headlands and unfortunately what it feels like to carry a surfboard up the hill to their house…

Along with saying bye to Noosa, I was also able to fit in one of the final things left on my Australian bucket list- Fraser Island. Fraser is the largest sand island in the world and is the only place where a tall, full rainforest grows on sand dunes. Because nobody else wanted to pay for it (understandably- it was pretty pricey but I’m one of those yolo gals), I booked one spot on a backpacker tour that left from Noosa for a day trip to the island and am so happy I did. While most of the time was spent riding in the 4WD coach along the beach, I was able to see so many remote and pristine places. We visited places like Rainbow Bay, Double Island Point, Inskip Peninsula, and Lake Mckenzie on Fraser, most of which only people with a 4WD can visit. This made each one of these spots look untouched, expect for tire tracks, and even more exotic. Lake Mckenzie was definitely the highlight- it had the most beautiful hues of blue and had the clearest water I ever seen in the shallow parts. Not to mention the temperature was perfect and it was so nice to swim around in freshwater for a change. That experience followed up with a delicious meal of steak and a variety of salads. Since there was only eight of us on the tour, there was plenty of food (and alcohol) leftover for us to consume. On my tour were a couple of nice Scottish girls who I hung out with and who are traveling the popular East Coast of Australia route.  They are going to be in Melbourne while James and I are there so hopefully I’ll see them again!

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Rainbow Bay

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Lake McKenzie

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Up next is finishing up a couple more weeks of fundraising work, soaking up every last bit of Brisbane I can and preparing for the next few months of adventure! On Friday, James and I have tickets to our very first rugby game (Brisbane Broncos vs. Canberra Raiders) to finally experience what we’ve heard so much about. In the meantime, we will keep busy enjoying everything Aussie.

Love,

Anni

 

 

Another Dream becomes Reality

It’s official! James and I are outta here in one month and headed to Tasmania, Melbourne and then Southeast Asia!

After a lot of brainstorming and planning since just a couple months after I arrived in Brisbane, the dream is now a reality. The flights are booked and the itinerary is lookin’ fab. We’ll be leaving Brisbane April 4, exploring Tasmania from a campervan for a week, then soaking our last bit of Australia up for a while in Melbourne for six days before taking off to Bangkok to start our Southeast Asian adventure until August. It’s also official I’ll be celebrating my 23rd birthday in Melbourne- not a bad place to spend a birthday 😉

In the meantime, I’ll be working hard to make as much money as I can and squeeze in the last bit of adventuring around Queensland before I leave. My job with PFS has been going really well and not only am I racking up the cash but I’ve met some really fun people from all over the world while at it. Sometimes the friendships made are just as valuable as the money. Of course our friendships will be short-lived but when you bring  a bunch of young, like-minded people together, the next meet-up is never too far away.

One month until I leave my home away from home and I’m definitely starting to feel nostalgic about my time here. While these past six months have flownnn by, I also feel like I’ve been here forever – living three different lives in a matter of seven months in one city. It’s been cool to have experiences like living with a host family, weekend backpacker travels, and living in the city and working all in the same place. I’ve gotten to know just about every corner of Brisbane and am always counting my blessings for the opportunity to live in and explore this wonderful country, and state of Queensland. There is so much I’ve learned about this place, the people and myself that I will take with me back to the U.S. and everywhere else I go for the rest of my life.

So for now, I’ll enjoy Brissy in my last few weeks and be sure to make a record of all the incredible, last adventures that happen around here in this last month.

Love,

Anni

 

 

 

The things I do for adventure…

I guess this is the part where life abroad bites me in the butt and reminds me long-term traveling isn’t all a fairy-tale. Unlike the pictures your friends post from backpacking in Europe or the blogs you read about people jumping from town to town basically on an extended vacation, I’m out in Australia living almost the same kind of realities I would live at home. This means paying rent, buying groceries, spending way too much on alcohol, working, and saving money wherever I possibly can. The difference is, though, I’m in Australia. This makes these realities seem a bit more like an adventure and learning experience rather than a barrier stopping me from being where I want to be.

In order to face these new realities since moving out of my host family’s place, I’ve become a door-to-door fundraiser to rack up the money. That’s right – I’m literally knocking on doors 25 hrs per week so I can continue traveling from here. It’s not a piece of cake but it’s worth it. And it’s teaching me a lot… probably more than I want to know. The people I’m working with are fun and extremely exciting to be around though which is a huge plus. The guys training me now are both from the UK, one from Birmingham and one from Scotland. They recently moved up here from Sydney to start this new office and seem to have had a lot of success at a really young age with this fundraising gig. So since they choose me to join their team and people say I have the gift of gab, I figured I might as well give it a go. There’s no harm in raising some money for charities while raising some money for yourself too, right?

I’ll admit I’m missing the ease and comfort of the Au Pair life but it is exciting to be working with people my age, running all around the city and its surrounds together. Hard part is I can’t do much exploring while working more and trying to save money so the downside is its a bit of a less adventurous time right now but as I always say, work hard, play hard right?

Olivia and Leslie are in SE Asia right now having their play-time so James and I have been having plenty of quality time together when we’re not working. It’s been good to finally have a chance to try out the day-to-day together, even if it means we get on each others nerves now and then. Learning how to balance time for ourselves and each other while making sure we each get enough space has been interesting but overall we’ve really enjoyed each other’s company and continue to look forward to all of our upcoming adventures together.

More plans come together every day and as we get inch closer and closer to April, I get more and more excited to move on to new places and people. Of course at the same time, I am still enjoying Brisbane and still have things on my to-do list before leaving Queensland as it’s been my home away from home for almost six months now.

Friday night my housemates threw a party as an overdue “Housewarming” and it was a blast. Mostly 18-year-olds since they were Olivia’s brother’s friends but they made me feel young again and I loved getting to know all their friendly mates, and talk to them about traveling. It’s funny how the tables have turned and I’m now the foreigner everyone wants to chat with- it seems it wasn’t very long ago when I would meet a foreigner in Florida and ask them a million questions about their life. The boys all took turns DJ’ing which set a great mood and had everyone excited. James of course loved trying out his mixes he’s been working on, and people were digging it. After the party, James and I went out with some Au Pair friends, Caroline and Megan, who I’ve gotten to know, and we had an awesome time dancing away at a rooftop bar with people from all over. The night also ended up being a celebration of our housemate, Hugh, one of Joey’s good friends, who is now moving to Melbourne. We’ll miss his company and his style but look forward to hopefully catching up with him when James and I go down there in April!

I think about my friends and family at home all the time, and wish more than anything I could see them sooner but I know as soon as I return I’m going to have amazing reunions with all of them. For now, I’m living up and learning from this crazy year of my life as best I can.

Love,

Anni

Brisbane Part 2

Well, I’ve come to the crossroads folks. No longer am I an Au Pair on the working holiday visa but just a gal living (and working soon) in OZ on a visa before I set out for the next adventure. I’m completely moved out of my host family’s home in the suburb of Ferny Hills and now find myself in close quarters with the hustle and bustle of the Brisbane CBD. I’m so grateful for the opportunity Camille and Mark, my host parents, gave me to experience Aussie life in such an intimate and unique way. It will be awesome to continue to keep in touch with them and watch the boys I looked after grow up over the years. And ~fingers crossed,~ maybe I’ll get to host them in the U.S. one day.

But here I am now, no longer living with two middle-aged adults and two toddlers, but with five other people around my age. I feel so fortunate to have close enough relationships here that I didn’t have to find my own place but rather just moved in Olivia’s house, where James is also living, and am chipping in for rent. It’s a pretty drastic transition from living in the burbs with a family free of expenses but one I was ready for.

Of course I’ll miss the kids I looked after and bonded with for five months, and the benefits of the job (like not having to pay for rent or groceries) but this new phase of life in Brisbane, Australia is already hitting me with all kinds of new challenges and adventures. Learning how to live in a city and get around on public transportation nearly every day is a new learning experience, for example. Long gone are the days of driving around my host mom’s car when I need something…

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Aside from sorting out my living situation, I’ve been job searching to save up money before leaving to travel in a couple months and just recently accepted a fundraising job for a company called PFS, Pro Fundraising Services. The job itself is really basic, just fundraising for a variety of charities PFS partners with, but is meaningful work at the end of the day and should be a good way to meet more travelers as a lot of backpackers take on these jobs.

But don’t worry – the realities of life haven’t taken the wanderlust out of me yet. Just this past weekend James and I took a ferry from Brissy to Moreton Island, a huge island just off the coast with no roads but plenty of unique features, for a little escape and exploring. We went for an overnight trip so we could camp and make the most of our trip out there, even though it’s possible to do a day trip as well. It was amazing. Right after landing on the island, we walked down the beach we were camping at, and hiked up to what is called “The Desert,” on the island. It looks exactly like a desert except it is surrounded by greenery. There were massive sand dunes that we struggled walking up and then got an adrenaline rush running down. On our way back to the water, we were treated with the most spectacular sunset – the sun bright as can be, with colors of blue, orange, pink and purple scattered throughout the sky. We soaked up every bit of it in as we swam in the bay and smiled about the magic of the moment. The next day we spent relaxing, swimming and taking advantage of the amenities at Tangalooma Island Resort before heading back to the main land. What a way to spend a weekend…

So here goes Part 2 of my Australian adventure before the backpacking to Tasmania, New Zealand and Southeast Asia begins in April. Wish us luck and as always, peace and love my dudes.

Love,

Anni

With every end, comes a new beginning

This past week was wonderful. Because of Australia Day, on Jan. 26, I had an extra long weekend – five days to be exact – and spent it seeing live music, swimming in the ocean and sailing.

On Australia Day, James and I went to a one-day music festival in Brisbane called Laneway. It was loads of fun and we got to see a bunch of acts we love, including Tame Impala as the headliner. It was awesome to see one of our favorite bands play in their home country as we both noticed how much more comfortable Kevin Parker and the gang seemed, and how much more he conversed with the crowd.

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The day was also controversial though because it is celebrated on the day the Europeans came to Australia and murdered many aboriginals, much like America’s Columbus Day. This means it wasn’t the big, crazy Independence Day-like celebration you may picture. I didn’t see many Australia flags or hear anyone shouting. There were more people with “Change the Date” written on their arm, as there is a big push from citizens to change Australia Day’s date to one that doesn’t relate to the genocide that happened on Jan. 26.

After a crazy day of music, that didn’t end until sunrise, and a day of recovery hanging around at the house in Red Hill, James, Leslie, and I rode up to Noosa with Olivia and Hannah. I wasn’t sure how I felt about making the trip up there again since we’ve been going quite a bit but it turned out to be an awesome weekend and I’m so glad we did. I guess there’s no such thing as too much Noosa…

We pretty much picked up where we left off from last time we were there by having Leslie contact the sailor she had met two weeks earlier, who offered to take us out if we helped crew his boat in return. He told us he was taking it out so with a bit of suspicion, we went for it anyway and ended up having an amazing day sailing off the coast of Noosa. The sailor who owned the boat is named Sean and is a middle-aged, laid-back Aussie who just loves to sail. He told us all kinds of stories, gave us tips and even gave me the chance to sail the boat for a bit! The views of the deep blue, open water, with the contrast of the teal- colored water closer in to the headlands made for some gorgeous scenery. We celebrated the great day with some beers with Sean and his friend Kate when we made it back to shore and then took off to head back to the city. We fortunately left with an invitation to join him on the boat “anytime” so hopefully there will be some more adventures where that came from.

Those five exciting days led me to my last week as Kirin and Charlie’s Au Pair in Ferny Hills. I’m having a lot of mixed emotions as I finish this chapter of the journey. Part of me feels a sort of freedom and excitement as I’m moving on to something new but I also have a lot of nostalgia and a bit of anxiety thinking about how much my routine is going to change. Although I only plan on getting a job for a couple months before leaving Australia, the realities of the job search and moving into the Red Hill house with James make me feel as it I’m staying here forever… I guess because the initial job that got me here is now ending and from here on out, it’s up to me to figure out a way to support myself and everything I want to do. In other words, there’s no return ticket home. Only more tickets to be booked.  I’m excited though because it’s all part of the adventure – the kind of adventure I wanted more than anything during my college years. Not every day is easy and anxieties aren’t absent but I am learning so much about myself and life, and am thrilled to be doing that while living out my dream of traveling.

My experience as an Au Pair is everything I hoped it’d be. While I didn’t spend as much time with my host family as I initially thought I might, meet as many other Au Pairs as I thought, and didn’t experience quite as much daily freedom as expected, I developed a close relationship with two young boys and two adults who live on the other side of the world from me and were once complete strangers. In learning their ways, I’ve learned a lot about mine and it’s been so fun to really immerse myself in another family’s lifestyle. I’ve seen little and large differences between Americans and Aussies, and finally am comfortable with all the different words they use, and side of the road they drive on. This place without a doubt has become a home, and I am so fortunate to have had the chance to make it one. Even if just for five months. There is so much you can learn from living with a family so far and so different than you’re own, and I’m really glad I did. It wasn’t always as “thrilling” as living and working with people my age would be but it was unique and special- an opportunity that gives you a closer connection with people who were once strangers than many people will ever experience in their lifetime. So this may be the “official” farewell to Mark, Camille, Kirin and Charlie as their “American Au Pair” but their “Anni” isn’t going anywhere. 🙂

Love,

Anni

Realizing the “Bubble” Is The First Step

It’s something talked about a lot but thinking back to my life at home and now looking from afar at the commentary surrounding the Women’s Marches that took place on Donald Trump’s first day in office,  I’m reminded how relevant a person’s “bubble” really is even in an age where thousands of other  lives are accessible via the social media app on your smart phone or tablet.

It’s the way some people seem to forget not every life has the same privileges as their own and the way some seem to think countries are like barriers separating “your” people and the other people who are different to you and whose problems don’t affect you…

Well newsflash –  the world is smaller than you think and at the end of the day we’re all in it together.

Although I wasn’t able to participate myself and vicariously marched through my friend’s experiences, the Women’s Marches that happened all over the world were a reminder to me and hopefully to others that ALL humans are interconnected and have the same kind of fears, problems and hopes everywhere. While America might not have the most pressing issues of them all, we are the ones who are big enough and strong enough to do something about them. And what I found to be so powerful the other day is that so many people recognize that and were ready to step up, whether to defend themselves or others. And the countries who might not be big enough or strong enough to have our kind of voice ? Well, they stepped up too and supported a movement they felt a connection to, hoping their support might actually come to their rescue one day.

I guess my reasoning for writing this post was to not only give my insight into what I think was an extremely historic day for my country but also to again point out the strong correlation that travel and open-mindedness have. When I think back to before I moved to Australia temporarily, I think of a bubble that was comfortable and privileged. It’s a great life, don’t get me wrong, but it only expanded so far. Now, having lived in another country and having found friends from all over the world, that bubble is realized so much more. While I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to live in a bubble if that is what you choose, it is important to recognize the insight you may lack if one kind of person and one kind of lifestyle is all you really, truly know.

One of my favorite lessons this experience has taught me is the amount of opportunity and possibility that comes from associating yourself with a different reality than what has been “normal” to you.  People live differently everywhere, under different circumstances, but realizing how their reality isn’t as far from yours as you may think is essential to making the kind of changes this world needs more of. Call it love, empathy, or whatever you want – caring about issues and being proactive to solve them is helping you, a human, more directly than you may ever have to realize. So you go ladies (and supportive men), you go!

Love,

Anni

 

 

 

Hangin’ Loosa in Noosa

A sweltering few days in Brisbane last week called for an escape to the coast for the weekend so to Noosa we went!

Friday night James and and I enjoyed some delicious Greek food at a place called Little Greek Taverna in West End. It’s BYO (my favorite) so we were able to bring our own wine and were even treated to some traditional Greek music with all the servers throwing napkins and shouting “Opa!” at one point. We’ll definitely be going back there as the food was great and cheap with an authentic atmosphere to compliment it. The night was kept short with a quick visit to The Bearded Lady, a hipster bar with a Star Wars pinball machine and quirky decor, before going back to play with James’ housemate’s soundboard and chill.

After a sweaty sleep, James and I headed to the coast in the morning. This was the first time I had ever had to take public transportation to Noosa so I was a bit irritated with how much longer the process was to get there but it was still very worth it to get out of the heat-trapped city for a bit. Not long after we arrived in Noosa, we headed to beach and swam around in some pretty rough waves for a while until we opted to have some wine by the water. What a beautiful setting it was – the sun slowly going down on under the waves and tropical plants radiating in its evening rays. I was in heaven.

Leslie was already up in Noosa with her host family during their holiday vacation so she met James and I out for some drinks at a couple bars near Main Beach that night. We kept it chill with just some beer jugs between the three of us but had fun catching up and people watching. James and I walked back to the O’Brien’s place that night jamming to Chameleon, our favorite new chart topper by Pnau.

Sunday we got up and walked in an extremely muggy heat to Noosa River, about a 35 min. walk, near where Leslie had stayed. There we grabbed some coffee, met up with Leslie and walked along the river until we came to the “U-Drive Boats” booth that had hobie cat sailboats for hire. We rented a boat between the three of us for two hours and had a blast of an afternoon, with the weather clearing up just after we took the boat out. Lucky I have friends who can sail and can take me on these adventures… We even got as bold as to sail into the open sea for a bit, riding the sailboat on some pretty big waves that had us all a little worried for a second before we turned back. We all brushed our fears off as laughter though and had a great time surfing the waves in a little sailboat while it lasted. Afterward, we celebrated our feat with a round of drinks at Noosa Surf  Club before calling it a day.

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James and I took Monday morning slow, with me sleeping in and him doing some work on his lap top. It was just what we needed and we were both very pleased with how our day started. After grabbing some food and taking another look at the ocean, we made our way back to the city. It was a nice, relaxing couple of days that both of us were happy to have had. Big thanks to the O’Brien clan for living in Noosa!

Love,

Anni