The Wanderer Returns

Warning, this post will be a ramble with which I try to come to terms with the experience I just had in New Zealand after which I will go through and explain the past two weeks in as much detail as possible both so you can know what I did and because I never ever want to forget the people or places from this trip. You will most likely not understand this rambling but I will clear everything up over the next few days.

Hello everyone. This post is being written in a Queenstown hostel by a very confused wanderer who just had two of the most amazing weeks of his life with people who he became incredibly close to and just a few short hours ago had to walk down the street as the bus drove past. I know that the feeling of leaving comes with the territory when you travel but I was unprepared for how intense of an emotional experience the tour was going to be. Never would I have guessed that I would become so close to so many people, particularly Alex, Andy, Claire, and Rachel. Despite there being over a decade between me and the rest of them they still became my best friends on the trip and it was so hard to walk down the street while they all walked back onto the bus. I knew that I was going to have a certain few who I would become closer with than the rest of the bus but never to this extent. It is truly amazing what mutual experience will do to people. That and having to see them day in and day out for two weeks in a confined space in a wide variety of situations really expedites the process of getting to know someone.

When I first got to Australia I was slightly scared and very intimidated about being in a new place by myself. I used the fact that I was leaving for this trip as an excuse to not put myself out there. This trip completely ended that. By the time a week had gone by I felt completely comfortable and natural in and around the tour. I had an amazing group of people who I did the vast majority of activities with and to be honest I feel like I have known them for years. We picked up and hit it off so quickly and naturally that nothing else mattered whether it be age, relationship status, or anything else. And that was probably the single most amazing thing about this trip. To connect with “The Group” so genuinely was really my favorite part of the whole trip. Without it who knows what my Flying Kiwi tour would have been like.

I am tired. Physically and emotionally. The tour was amazing and I wish I had done the full 28 days like most of the people were but it was such a whirlwind of stress, drama, adrenaline, and a plethora of other feelings that I am having a hard time putting it into words. So I will take my leave now in hopes that after sleep and a few hours to come to terms with what just happened to me I will be able to clarify and explain my New Zealand adventure.

As always, please do not worry about me. Yes, I am sad about leaving my friends and at the gnawing thought something with incredible potential was cut short. Yes, I miss everyone from back home terribly and can’t wait to talk to you. Yes, I am more tired than I can ever remember being before. Yes, I am having the absolute time of my life. Travel is amazing. It hurts to leave people and places, but if it didn’t hurt than it didn’t mean anything in the first place. And I would much rather cry than have nothing worth crying about. So don’t worry about me. I will be fine. This experience has left me with amazing friends and memories which will last much longer than the pangs of change and slight lonliness.

I love you all and thank you for your wishes, prayers, and support.

Doctor, thank you. Realism can wait, don’t you think?

 

Yours,

The Wanderer

I Am Alive

This cannot be a long post because I am currently paying $1 for every 10 minutes of internet and I only have 3 minutes left. Shit.

But I wanted to let all of you know that I have made it safely to New Zealand and I am loving it here! The tour is a fantastic time and I have already done more in these past three days than I could possibly fit into one post. Those updates will come soon, I promise 🙂

Since the internet is still attached to download/upload limits I will also have to ask you all to wait a little while longer to see pictures. Patience is a virtue, or so I have been told.

Long story short, don’t worry about me. I survived my flight to Auckland, my one night in a random hostel, finding my way around a foreign city to find the meeting point, and even jumped out of a plane with nothing but some fabric attached to rope to keep me from becoming a puddle of mush. And I still have 13 nights to go 😀

I love and miss you all very much. Sorry that this post couldn’t be more informative or personal but having internet at all was a surprise in and of itself.

Have a great rest of January if I don’t talk to you before then and if I do then YAY!

LOVE YOU MOM AND DAD, SEE YOU SOON!

New Zealand: An Explanation

Dear reader,

In a few hours I will be hopping on a plane to Auckland, New Zealand to begin a 17 day trip around the North and South islands. Since I highly doubt I will have the opportunity to update this blog while I am over there, here is a detailed description of what I will be doing while I am there:

17 January- After having the morning in Auckland to get supplies and explore a little, I will meet up with the bus tour at 10am and leave for Coromandel. We will spend the day at Coromandel Cove Beach and I will go sea kayaking before we camp on the beach for the night,

18 January- We will travel to Whiritoa to explore the Pahutukawa forest before going to Rotorua where we will camp next to Lake Rerewhakaaitu below Mount Tarawera, a dormant volcano.

19 January- In Rotorua for most of the day, we will go to the Wai-o-Tapu thermal pools. Later we will hike to Taupo where I will bungee jump and hike around the mountains Ngauruhoe, Tongariro, and Ruapehu. Camping at Turangi that night.

20 January- I will embark on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which will take me through and past many landscapes most people will recognize as Middle Earth. Move camp to Otaki.

21 January- Since my trip involves both the North and South island I will take the ferry to the South island after we arrive in Wellington. This is a loosely organized day so that we can explore the capitol’s many cafes, bars, museums, and shopping. That night I will take the ferry across the Cook Straight to Picton where we will stay for the night.

22 January- We will follow the coastline to Kaikoura where the hiking takes you into ‘close encounters with fur seals and a myriad of sea birds.’ I’m gonna make me some homemade UGGs!

23 January- We travel through the Canterbury region where I will do a dolphin swim and hang out on the beaches for the day.

24 January- After we travel to Rangitata I will white water raft through the Rangitata Gorge before we set up camp at the foot of Mt. Cook.

25 January- We will hike around Mt. Cook during the morning before traveling along the coast to Oamaru. We will spend a few hours there before going to the coast to camp for the night.

26 January- After a morning hike along the coast to see the Moeraki Boulders we will travel into Dunedin where I hope to tour the Speights Brewery. Travel to Catlins to camp and have a night hike to Nugget lighthouse.

27 January- We will hike around Catlins in the morning and stop for lunch at Lake Manapouri before visiting the town of Te Anau. Next we will leave for Fiordland National Park and camp in Hollyford Valley.

28 January- We will hike our way into Milford Sound via the Homer Tunnel (which is a 3,000ft decent). I still haven’t decided if I am going to do the Routeburn three day wilderness hike or not. I think I will wait to decide based on how I feel about the trip at that point and pray that there is an open spot if I decide it is something I want to do. The Routeburn is a three day hike that is truly backpacking. I would carry my tent, food, and everything else I would need as we hike up and over the mountain that the rest of the tour would go around.

29 January- If I don’t go on the Routeburn hike, I will hike in and around Te Anau and will do an overnight walk on the Keplar Track to go see Mt. Luxmore. Possibly do a jet ski before going back to our lakeside camp? 😀

30 January- We will finally get into Queenstown, the adventure capitol of the world! We will camp outside of the city but within walking distance. This is where I would rejoin the tour if I did the Routeburn and I would celebrate either way by a well deserved beer.

31 January- The last day of the tour. We will explore Queenstown for the whole day. I hope to go skydiving for the second time and possibly do more depending on the time constraints. The tour ends here but I will stay one more night in Queenstown before I return to Melbourne.

1 February- I will catch a plane from Queenstown to Auckland and then fly from Auckland back to Melbourne. THE END!

 

To say that I am excited about this trip would be a vast understatement. Everyone who has been to New Zealand says that it is the most beautiful place they have ever been and I cannot wait to experience it for myself. I wish that I had more time at each destination but I decided that a quick tour of the entire country would be a better way to spend  my time than to stay in one or two places for longer amounts of time. If the country lives up to everyone’s high praise then I have no doubt I will be back and this trip will hopefully give me an idea of what I want to do when I return.

Since I am not expecting to have internet and my phone will not be working while I am there, this will more than likely be the last post you receive from me for a few weeks. If I am able to post, it will most likely only be a brief “I’m Still Alive” update so that you all stop your worrying.

I am off to pack my backpack and make sure I have all my documents/tickets/information that I need. I also feel the heavy urge for a Coke.

Before I leave you, I want to reiterate what I have been saying the whole time since I have gotten here. I miss all of you so incredibly much and you have no idea how awesome it is to know that you all are reading this and supporting me while I am traveling. It has definitely been an adjustment to not be able to see all of you everyday or have immediate connection to you but it is something I am beginning to get used to. Please don’t take offense to a lack of communication, whether direct or through this blog. Always assume that no news is good news and that where ever I am that I am happy and smiling.

It is what I do for all of you.

Kei te aroha au ki a koe,

The Wanderer

 

Anticipation.

Dear reader,

It has been a few days since I have written but I promise you that you have not been missing much. These past five days have been filled with arranging accommodation, setting up bank and phone accounts, trying to enroll at Swinburne early, unpacking, and doing my best to establish myself in my new home before I leave for two and a half weeks. This last goal of mine has proven to be the hardest to achieve as I am constantly faced with a feeling of impermanence about my surroundings and those who I share them with. Seeing as how the two roommates who I am sharing my apartment with now will be moved out and in different accommodation by the time I return from New Zealand I have been very distant with them (and everyone else really). I am definitely feeling the pressure of living on my own with no sort of support structure around me and while this amount of freedom t is extremely liberating it is also somewhat scary. On multiple occasions I have found myself sitting in my room going through documents and preparing for New Zealand in the middle of the afternoon on a gorgeous, sunny, 75+ degree. I guess you could say that I have been using New Zealand and my trip with my parents as an excuse to not reach out to anyone. In my defense, I think that I truly did just want this time to myself. I had a lot of things on my mind and felt like I needed to get a lot done before I left for NZ because I wouldn’t have time to do anything when I got back. While I am happy that I did get so much done and I truly did enjoy the time all to myself I also recognize that it is never good to get into a rut of social behavior and I was coming dangerously close to becoming antisocial out of habit rather than choice. But thankfully, that all changed yesterday.

On Saturday I found myself with practically nothing to do. I had already begun to lay my stuff out for New Zealand, did a load of laundry (that cost me $6!), and then lazied around my room for a few hours until I realized what a perfect day it was outside. So I grabbed my book and went out onto the balcony of UniLodge to read a few chapters and begin the incredible tan you will all be so jealous of in six months. I was determined to not get burned so that my first few days in New Zealand weren’t miserable but despite timing how long I was out there and even having sunscreen… you guessed it… I got pretty toasted. Now, blisters aren’t forming on my skin and it was mostly gone when I woke up this morning but I did spend the rest of my Saturday visibly pinker than everyone else. Of course, this would happen on the one day that I actually had plans that night, too.

Last semester, I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people from Swinburne while they were studying at Bellarmine. Wylie, Zoe, Madeline, and James were all very helpful before I left for Australia and I had looked forward to meeting back up with them while I was here but communication was difficult giving my lack of internet and not having phone numbers. Finally though we managed to set something up to all meet downtown and go into Chinatown for dumplings. I had yet to be on Melbourne’s train network so I left a bit earlier then needed in case I got lost or went the wrong direction. Thankfully, none of that happened and I arrived unscathed and on time despite appearing like a lobster. Unfortunately James wasn’t able to meet us but the rest of us walked a few blocks into Chinatown and had dinner. The dumplings were delicious and since the restaurant we went to didn’t have the dessert we wanted we walked to another one so that we could eat banana fritters. Not being a huge fan of bananas I tried the fried ice cream but the few bites of fritter that I did have were actually quite good. On the way back I actually was able to take the same train that Wylie did so we sat and talked for a few more minutes before I got off. All in all it was a really great night and something that I think I really needed. It was good to see some familiar faces and to have people who knew where I was coming from.

When I got back to my apartment, I was exhausted and just wanted to go to bed knowing that I had a big day today. But right as I spit my toothpaste out one of my roommates knocked on the bathroom door and when I opened it he petitioned me to have a drink with all them and their friend. Being in quite the social mood (and it was free beer) I couldn’t decline so I sat around for an hour or so and talked with them. They are really great guys and, while English is quite obviously their second language, I have immense respect for them for their level of effort and dedication. My two roommates are actually getting their masters here and will be doing their full course of study at Swinburne, meaning they are here for two or more years. We talked about our favorite beers, what it was like being in Australia, and how insanely lucrative the Australian mining industry had become. And we did it despite broken English, heavy accents, and drunkeness (after one beer both of them proclaimed to be drunk).

I took my leave and fell asleep despite the excitement of leaving for New Zealand the next day.

I will finish this post up by saying just how excited I am for this trip. It has been on my mind constantly ever since I began to entertain the idea of it and I can’t believe that it is finally here. Melbourne is a great city that has a lot of things to offer but there is something about this trip to New Zealand that I find so irresistibly intriguing. I know this sounds hypocritical given the times I have talked about being ‘disconnected’ but I am genuinely excited about the thought of having no expectation of internet or phone connection for over two weeks. It is the expectation that I think makes the huge difference. When I got to Swinburne, I expected to be able to connect just as easily as I do back in the States but I know going into my New Zealand experience that I will not have that luxury. I think it will be extremely refreshing and rejuvenating to travel and experience New Zealand with a group of 25 other strangers who will be everything but by the time the trip is over. It is definitely intimidating to be traveling there by myself and not knowing anyone at first but I have no doubt through the proximity of the trip and the unique experiences I will share with these people that we will all become very close, for better or for worse.

In order to save you from another 8,000 word post, I will end this one and create a new one to further explain my trip.

Much love.

Adjustments.

For those of you who were intimidated by the length of my last post (hehe) I want to give you a full disclosure that I do not intend for this post to be as long. However, I cannot promise you that I will get caught up in a blogging frenzy and begin to ramble for paragraphs upon paragraphs. But before any rambling can occur, I guess I should update you all on some of the circumstances that I am dealing with over here.

On the topic of internet. Australia could not be more different from the States when it comes to internet. The accessibility and structure of Australia’s internet demonstrates an entirely different approach to the world wide web. The first difference that I have noticed is that almost all of the internet provided in Australia is attached to download/upload limits whereas in the States there is no such limitation and the sole focus is on speed. Speed is a focus in Australia as well, but it takes a definite backseat to the amount of data one can send/receive. For instance, I am using a day pass for the internet inside of Starbucks right now and I have 24 hours to use their internet OR _____ whichever comes first. The first time I used it I didn’t do a very good job of reading the fine print and my ‘day’ pass lasted about 10 minutes once I started a Skype conversation with my mom. I was a bit taken aback and kind of disappointed but simply explained to her that until I could find a more reliable source of internet that I wasn’t paying for we would have to stick to chats and emails. At first I thought that it was only at the Starbucks where this was the case but soon realized that it is like this for almost all of Australia when I looked at the packet for what it would cost to get internet in my room. In the packet it explains that I would get a certain internet speed but only for the amount of data that I had paid for. After I had used up that data my connection would be dropped to a much slower speed for the rest of the month. The second big difference is that the availability of internet (when compared to the States) is just very limited and where it is provided it more often than not costs money to access. In the States, internet is becoming more and more available to the point where today you can go to any number of restaurants, businesses, and other establishments for free internet. In other words, free internet is becoming the standard as opposed to the exception in the States and the opposite is true in Australia.

Before I go on, I want to clarify that the above paragraph is not meant as an “America kicks Australia’s ass” rant but rather an observation. I recognize that the culture that I am living in now was not built to make me comfy cozy and that differences, both big and small, will occur frequently. However I must say that at the moment I am incredibly susceptible to the issue of the internet because I am brand new in this country and am still going through withdrawal over my family, friends, and the life that I had in the States. I was prepared to go through this withdrawal but I guess I thought that it would be a more gradual process aided by social networking, Skype, email, and other connections made possible by internet. Since my internet is unreliable, expensive, and limited I am being forced to more of a ‘cold turkey’ approach and I will not lie it is in no way a pleasant transition.

I think that another reason why I am being a bit clingy to the internet is because I don’t have a ton of people to connect with over here. My traveling before I start school caused me to arrive in Melbourne practically a full month before international students usually arrive so I have been dropped into a campus that is not only completely new to me but that is also without the people who I will most likely become closest with. Throw in a bit of jetlag and some responsibility to get things straightened out before I leave for New Zealand and I am sure that I appear to be quite the introvert to those I pass on the sidewalk. Which is strange for me.

Although sitting here I would love to have some drinking, workout, or just hanging out buddies I think that my relative lack of social interaction has allowed me to be incredibly productive and responsible. For those of you who know me, you can go ahead and pick your jaws up off of the floor. I have been able to find, apply for, and move into a permanent place to stay, establish a bank account and begin the transfer of money, get a phone, convince Swinburne to let me register a month before all the other international students, clean my room, completely unpack all of my things, buy linens, do a load of laundry (that cost me $6!!!!!), reorganize all the papers and documents I have acquired over the past year, and have begun discussions to join a gym and possibly work there part time over the next 6 months. I have also slept 22 hours the past two nights which has been nothing short of glorious and plan on adding substantially to that number over the next two days. Had I been going out to a bar drinking I would probably have been sleeping just as much but not have been nearly as productive. See, there truly are positives in everything.

Another big difference that I am actually really enjoying is my lack of car. I’m sure this shocks people almost as much as the fact that I am being productive because you all know how much I love my car and driving. However I have truly enjoyed walking everywhere I have gone since I have been here. You see so much more when you walk from A to B as opposed to driving and I have yet to find myself hysterically screaming, cussing, or flicking off anyone who I pass on the sidewalk. Besides, the whole driving on the other side of the road and in the other side of the car would really throw me for a loop. Too much stress.

The people here are the other huge difference. They are all so friendly and willing to help. Most are very curious about where I am from and what I am doing here in Australia but never in a bad way so far. They are eager to help me, give me advice, and are very encouraging. My contacts at the offices in and around Swinburne have been nothing short of amazing and I give all the credit for my productiveness these past few days to them.

Well, thats all I have for you all right now. I promise to update you all before I go to New Zealand but whether that is tomorrow or Monday before I leave is still up in the air. As always, I love and miss all of you very much. I know that some of the things said above may lead you to think I am not enjoying myself or regret coming here but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am simply adjusting to my new surroundings and I would be more worried if I had absolutely no problems doing this than the expected, minor difficulties that I am going through now.

Pictures soon, promise.

Time Traveling.

Who needs a delorian when you have a United Airways 747? Not this guy. I left San Francisco around 10pm on Monday, January 9 and 13 and a half hours later landed in Sydney, Australia at 7am on Wednesday, January 11. It was really weird to hear the flight attendant tell everyone to set his or her watches 19 hours forward and even weirder to click completely through January 10. I am sure that I had a view precious hours of January 10th but I spent those sitting on a plane getting swamp ass, listening to a baby who probably thought all of the hateful glares and passive aggressive grunts were out of fondness as opposed to undiluted hate, and being woken up from the only sleep I had on the plane by a flight attendant who told me to put my seat belt on when the seat belt light wasn’t even on. So from this point onward, I am going to say that I had no January 10th and hope that if I say it enough I will be able to block that experience out of my memory.

On a serious note, the flights really weren’t that bad. In fact when all was said and done I would consider them to be extremely successful. All four of my flights were on time and despite being in completely new airports with very small windows of time to get from one plane to another I had no trouble finding my connecting flights. I was able to check the bags I wanted to check, carry-on the bags I wanted to carry-on, and everything I had when I left Cincinnati was with me when I walked out of the “Arrival Terminal” in Melbourne. All my co-passengers were polite, friendly, and unobtrusive. Even the baby I consider a blessing because that problem is easily solved with a “Volume Up” button. There is no “Fatness Down” or “Sleep Straighter” button and I was lucky to not need either of those for any of my flights. Poor cute girl in 21D, she needed both. I can even forgive being woken up from my slumber (YOU POKED THE BEAR!) not because of the “It’s policy” excuse Great Grandma Flight Attendant spat at me but because a mild bit of turbulence would have had the same effect and I was lucky to fall asleep in the first place.

The flights were also relatively uneventful. I was in the very first seat in the very first row for my flight to Chicago so I was able to spend most of that time conversing with the flight attendant and getting all the free refills I wanted (#winning). I like to think it was because of my charming smile and persona so those of you who think it is because I was standing right next to the service center can shut it.

The flight to San Francisco was probably my least enjoyable simply because I had… wait for it… awkward armrest moments (DUH DUH DUHHHHHHHH). Multiple awkward armrest moments. Here’s how it went down. I was on the aisle and the man to my right was wearing a big baggy sweater. I am sure that baggy sweater was comfier than a kangaroo’s pouch but the damn thing brushed my arm the entire 5 hour flight. He was a smaller sized, middle aged guy and very mild mannered but when it came to that armrest he might as well have been Hulk Hogan. He jammed his elbow into the back of that thing and wouldn’t budge until he decided he wanted a drink or crossed his arms to take a nap. That’s when I struck. I threw concern of a funny bone injury out the window and would take my rightful armrest spot as soon as an opportunity presented itself. Of course this inevitably led to him trying to unsuccessfully take it back and then him doing the same thing to me whenever I made the strategic mistake of using my right arm to take a drink or scratch my head. So we sparred in an armrest battle of epic proportions for hours until the plane landed where we stood up, grabbed our bags, nodded downward (not upward) at one another in mutual recognition, and walked off the plane never to see him again. He’s too scared to come back anyways.

My flight to Sydney out of San Francisco was actually probably my best flight. I was on the left side of the plane in an aisle seat the seat between me and the guy in the window seat wasn’t taken. I used that armrest all night. It may seem petty but it was really great to have that middle seat open. As opposed to that pocket on the back of the seat that they expect you to keep everything in we were just able to lay it on the middle seat, put all of our drinks, food, and trash on the middle tray, and most importantly we were completely free of concern over those “Fatness Down” and “Sleep Straigher” buttons. Poor 21D. The movies that they showed weren’t anything special but the time passed surprisingly fast with a good book and my laptop available. I don’t know how long I slept but that didn’t hurt either. By the way, don’t ever consume airplane breakfast. The eggs make McDonald’s look like gourmet omelets. This only exception to this rule will be pancakes. I rolled the dice on that one and they came up big for me.

I spent the most time in the Sydney airport out of any of them. It was nice to be able to change into some new clothes and not have to go straight back onto another plane but there were no plugs to charge my dying laptop and I was beginning to be overcome by the feeling of just wanting to be in Melbourne. It is a terribly demoralizing thing to get off a 14 and a half our flight only to realize you still have another two hour flight before you get to where you want to go. Once I boarded I was rewarded yet again by an empty seat between me (the aisle) and the window. I was also rewarded by there being a very cute, talkative girl sitting in the window seat. The flight went quickly (as any flight would compared to a transpacific flight) and I took my final opportunity to consume a substantial amount of caffeine while I talked to my window seat friend about what I should do while I was in Melbourne amongst other things. This short flight was probably my most eventful because during our first attempt at landing there were apparently strong gusts of wind that resulted in us circling around the airport for another 10 minutes or so. Once we were on the ground we stopped short of the terminal so that our landing gear could get looked at (we apparently popped a tire or something). We finally pulled up and it was quite a relief to know that I was done with planes for at least 72 hours.

When I got off the plane in Melbourne I went through a surprisingly quick and harmless immigration and customs process. The entire experience was only expedited by the fact that both of my checked bags were not only there but were actually two of the first 20 or so bags that came onto the carrousel. This was definitely a pleasant surprise as I had begun to prepare myself for a substantial wait waiting for my bags. I got through the entire process in less than half an hour. I walked out into the “Arrival Terminal” and took a moment to take in the fact that I was halfway around the world all by myself with no phone or internet and no one to contact even if I did. I walked out into the Melbourne morning to wait for my shuttle that was supposed to be there at 12:30pm to take me to campus. At 12:45 I walked back inside to see if there was a specific spot that I should be waiting or if anyone could call the company to see if the bus was even coming. They told me to just go back outside and wait which I did because I literally had no other options. So I sat my sweet ass down on a bench and for the next 40 minutes had a conversation with a racist Australian who told me Melbourne was a miserable place to live because of all the Asians and Indians that live there. He worked in the mining industry and provided an immense amount of entertainment while I waited for my shuttle. When the shuttle did come I said my farewells and was off toward the city.

With me on the ride was another student who is studying at Derbin and we talked about our travel experiences during the 40 minute ride. His experience is mainly why I am thankful for all my luggage coming through on time because none of his did. The driver dropped him off first and then took me to the front office of Swinburne because I didn’t have anywhere else to go (in other words, I was homeless). When I walked in I took a number, threw all my suitcases into a corner, and waited until I was called on by a woman who I would soon become quite close with. Having no where else to go, I began inquiring to her about where I could stay and she was able to help me get in touch with UniLodge which is basically a dorm at Swinburne. My contact at Swinburne abroad, Esther, got wind of my arrival and came over to see me which was extremely helpful because she walked me around the campus to where I was supposed to go. I went to UniLodge to start the process of getting a room and between talks with a very helpful ‘mate’ called Fergis I walked to the main road, opened a bank account, talked to Esther about Melbourne and what resources I had near me, and also tried unsuccessfully to get internet on my computer. After 8 hours talking to various people, walking all around campus and the main street, and signing all sorts of documents I was taken up to my room. It is very simple but will be more than sufficient for the next 6 months. I was slightly turned off by the fact that there are three other people living in the apartmentesque dorm and none of them were there or anything for me to introduce myself to. But I got over that soon enough and after one of the longest showers of my life I walked to McDonald’s to eat and take advantage of the rumored free internet that was there. After 20 minutes of trying to get my email to load I gave up and returned to my room. By then it was 7:30pm and I was beginning to crash. I managed to brush my teeth and unfold my sleeping bag before passing out from exhaustion and a full stomach.

I woke up the next day after 15 hours of sleep and decided that it was time to go be productive again. I went back and talked to the sweet old lady from yesterday and Esther before walking back to the main street (called Glenferry), taking some cash out, getting a phone, and then posting up in the corner of a Starbucks to finally have some reliable (but not free) internet with which I could contact my loved ones in the states and give you, my readers, an update I am sure you were dying to receive.

I apologize for the length but I decided to cram in my first day and a half in Melbourne into the post about my travel experience. It is easier for me to do that. I hope to have some more reliable internet soon but it is not on the top of my list at the moment simply because I will be gone to New Zealand here in four days. I will keep updating on a daily pattern (or close to it) until then and will try to get onto Skype, Facebook, and email on a regular basis to keep in touch for these first two days.

I love and miss you all very much. Please do not worry about me as I am safe and happy where I am, both physically and mentally. While I understand your worry, I hate to think that I am the cause of that. So smile and go do something spontaneous for me. Pour a beer out, go eat a Chipotle burrito, or cuss too loudly in the SAC if you miss me and know that if I wasn’t halfway around the world I would be right next to you sharing the moment with you.

 

More coming soon and I may treat you all to some pictures, too! 😛

The Wanderer

 

Thank You’s and Goodbyes

Dear reader,

By the time you read this I will be well on my way to Melbourne, Australia. My flights are in no way direct, convenient, or brief and if you want to follow my progress across the world my flight information and United Airline’s plane tracker can be found in my previous post entitled https://recollectionsofawanderer.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/the-plan/. Sitting here now, I am planning on being able to keep you posted of my location by quickly update this blog as I land and hurriedly board my next plane. However I can not guarantee that I will be able to do this and so the link and flight information above will be your most reliable source.

But this post is not about my flights to Australia. It is about the people who have made this experience possible with their faith, love, and support.

To my family…

Mom and Dad. I know that we have had our differences over the years and that I haven’t always been the best at showing my gratitude for everything that you do for me but I want you to know that I love you with all my heart. Without you, none of this would be happening for me. You raised me to have an open mind and with an immense desire to not just learn about the world but to also experience it. When you allowed the three of us to participate in CISV, you not only opened us up to opportunities that few people get in their entire lives but also established a curiosity in me without which I am not sure I would be doing this semester abroad. Throughout this entire process (and the past 20 years) you have been there to calm me down and keep me going in the right direction even when I fought against you with every fibre of my being. Thank you for not giving up on me and supporting me as I travel to the other side of the world and, even if I don’t always show it, I love you both more than words can describe.

Amy and Sara. I will miss you both terribly. Sara, you have been gone for the past 5 months already and it has definitely been strange not having you around for the holidays and those random weekends back in Cincinnati. I know that your experience in Cambodia hasn’t exactly been perfect and that your plans have changed slightly but I still want you to come see me in Australia and to share a beer and travel stories with me. Amy, I know that you are going through a very challenging and exciting transition in your life and I wish you the best of luck these next two quarters at OU. I am disappointed it didn’t work for you to come see me while I am over there but I promise you that there is very little in this world that is more exciting than being a freshman in college. You will have your chance to rub it into my face that you get to go travel somewhere exotic for 6 months and when that chance comes I will most likely have a 9-5 job that I hate. Don’t forget to have fun but remember that my spies will tell me when you are having too much fun.

Aunts, Uncles, Cousines, and extended family everywhere. I am blessed to have a family big enough that I do not have the time to go through individuals, but I want all of you to know that I am very excited that you are reading this blog and following my travels in Australia. I know that my time abroad will keep me from very important family gatherings but just know that I love you all very much and cannot wait until I get to see all of you again.

To my Interchange…

Gio and Guigo. Holy shit, I would not be alive to write this if you two hadn’t been there to help me through the past two summers. But for every moment of drama and frustration there were equal amounts of hysterical laughter, picture perfect moments, and learning experiences that I will never forget. Thank you both for two amazing summers and for making Sao Paulo a home away from home for me.

Kids. I don’t even know if I should be calling you kids anymore. You all will always be so near and dear to my heart. It is hard for me to think of you all starting high school but I am so excited to watch you grow from the amazing kids you were to the loving adults you will be. I am always here for you (whether I am in the States, Australia, or anywhere else in the world) no matter what. Don’t be strangers, okay?

To my friends…

What would I do without you? You all have gotten me through so much and I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am. Unfortunately there is no way for me to go through all of you on here (but for that I have an idea you will see later) but that in no way diminishes the value that I put on my relationship with each and every one of you. I know that sometimes I am stubborn, too sarcastic, and opinionated but you all have not only put up with me but made efforts to include me in your lives. For that, I will forever be grateful. Over the past few weeks I have steadily said my goodbyes to you and I want you to know that I will miss you terribly. It is going to be difficult to not be able to see you everyday, talk to you without scheduling Skype dates, and I am going to miss all the spontaneity and hilarity you bring into my life everyday.

Chalkboard. I fucked up. You are absolutely right that we are close enough for you to call me out on forgetting you were at Azteca’s for my farewell dinner but you are absolutely wrong that I don’t owe you an apology. I will be religiously following your Twitter rants about the Blackhawks for the rest of the season and am counting down the days where I get to lose myself in your purple (albeit fake purple) eyes 😉 love you

I also owe an apology to KitKat and Girlfriend for not mentioning their names as well. I suck and I am sorry.

Coach. I don’t know what I would do without you. You have been there for me through thick and thin and I have helped me through so many different situations. I am going to miss you and the predawn coffee, bunny rabbits, and bridges that you bring into my life. I want to thank you for not giving up on me even when I had given you every reason to and for being a voice of reason when I had none. You are truly my best friend. Don’t forget to let your ‘natural’ hair down every once in awhile and of course don’t forget to smile.

Running Bull. You may be the one person who I can go without talking to for months at a time and be able to step back into it without missing a beat. I can tell you anything and everything. Thank you for never going easy on me and always reminding that there is always love behind tough love even when it doesn’t seem like it. I can’t wait to have our second annual birthday extravaganza with you when I get back.

To everyone…

I am who I am today because of you. You all have helped to shape me probably in more ways than I would like to admit. My friends and family are a part of me and no distance or time will ever change that. Yes, a lot of things will change while I am gone but that in no way means that I will forget about any of you. One of the reasons why I am so confident about this experience is because I know I have you all to support, push, and encourage me. Thank you for everything you have and will do for me.

I miss you already,

The Wanderer