These are just a few of the awesome things there are to do in New Zealand. I would go back in an instant if given the opportunity. There are endless natural wonders, and spontaneous adventures in places like this are often the most fun and exciting of them all.
I spent most of the day in the library studying and trying to get ahead with school stuff. I cooked a lot of food in the evening for the week, and watched some TV.
I swam in the morning which was pretty refreshing. Exercise is always a nice way to start the day. Then, I ate lunch at the apartment and walked to the library to study. I had my sustainability class which was interesting. Then, I studied some more before heading back to the apartment to eat and change for ultimate Frisbee practice at 6:30. It was really fun. We did some drills and then played a little. It reminded me of how much I miss it, and even though I don’t choose running as my form of exercise, when I’m playing Frisbee, it’s just fine with me. After practice, we all went to a famous pizza place for some free dessert pizza. It was a pretty good time.
I had my nutrition lecture in the morning and my sustainable communities tutorial in the afternoon. Nutrition was hard because she moved pretty quickly through the material, and I have a quiz this week. Sustainable communities was good. I learned some new things about how realistic and affordable changing all of our energy to renewable sources would be. I studied in the library for a while after classes, and then I got to walk home in the rain. Yay! I snuggled up in warm clothes and worked on some school stuff, did laundry, and cooked.
I woke up at 5:30am to go to a fitness class at the gym. I was surprised that I actually got out of bed, but I did! The sun wasn’t up yet on our walk to the gym, so it was pretty chilly. It was nice to get a good workout in so that I could start off my day sooner. After stopping by the apartment to shower and do some laundry, I headed to the library to study and take an online quiz. I spent most of the day doing that and working to catch up in another class. Then, I walked back to the apartment to drop off my stuff before we left for the free cooking class. It was so great. Our group got the herbs, lemon grass, and garlic ready. The teacher/famous chef guy cooked everything together. We had Chicken Larb (not lard) with mint leaves, spring onions, lime juice, and much more. The other dish was Fish with a coconut milk base that had fish sauce, lemon grass, garlic, and more. We all sat down to eat, and they told us to eat it all together with the rice they made. I wasn’t sure about that, but it was delicious. It was a lovely free dinner. We learned something while we were at it too. After dinner, they offered everyone coffee, and then we left for the cold walk home. We caught the last half of The Bachelor on TV (I don’t like this show and how it works, but it’s entertaining, so what can you do?). Kiley and I just put on a bunch of clothes to warm up and then took it easy for the night.
We woke up and worked out at the gym and then ate some food. We went back to the gym to use wifi for some school stuff to get done before Kiley’s parents got in. They arrived at their hotel not long after we started, so we finished a few things and met them at there. They stayed at a hotel just 5 minutes from our apartment which was nice. We had a great reunion with several hugs and catching up to do. Then, we showed them our apartment. From there, we left to get some ice cream at the mall and then walk around the lake. The walk was super nice, but Kiley’s parents were pretty tired since they hadn’t slept in so long. I think it was good we kept them moving though! We ate dinner at a café in the mall (I had a delicious risotto with chicken) and then told them goodnight as we headed back to our apartment to meet Nicola for her birthday. She invited some people over to have chocolate fruit. There were apples, grapes, kiwis, bananas, and blueberries. It looked very tasty, but we were pretty full from our delicious dinner. We had lots of fun even though it was pretty crowded with around 12 people. After we hung out for a while, most of us left for the city to go to “Beyonce night” at a club called “Mr. Wolf.” We took a bus there, and it was a lot of fun. We spent most of the night dancing and singing with our big group of friends. The dance floor got pretty crowded as the night went on, but it was awesome. Obviously, it was our favorite when they played Beyonce songs so we could sing the words super loud. At the end of the night, we tried to get an Uber back to our apartment. However, it was quite a journey…it took about an hour of waiting outside in the cold. They kept cancelling our request as they got close or drove around near us, but we finally got one. We were so happy to get in our warm beds at the end of the night!
We got up around 9:15 after going to bed pretty late. We met Kiley’s parents at 10 to walk/hike to the Telstra Tower. Telstra is a phone carrier here, so they have a big tower where you can go up to the top and see a great view. It took us a while to get there because it got pretty steep at the end, and the trails weren’t marked very well. We went up to the top where we could walk all the way around the tower. The view of Canberra was pretty great. We could see where we live, the many lakes, and the city that went to the night before. Then, we found our way down the mountain and into the city to go to Patissez. It’s a restaurant where they serve the famous “Freak Shakes.” They are super elaborate milk shakes with crazy flavors and combinations. Kiley and I both got the Pretzella. It had Nutella with milk in the mason jar topped with vanilla mousse. There was also Nutella on the outside of the jar where there were pretzels stuck to it and in the vanilla mousse. Man, that was a delicious mess of a milk shake. It was so tasty and the perfect combination of sweet and salty. After we finished our shakes, we went to an opal store. The jewelry was pretty expensive, but we found a store right next to it where Kiley’s parents got her a cross necklace with an opal in the middle for her birthday since it’s her birth stone. We were pretty tired and cold afterwards, so we walked around to find a bus or taxi. We found a taxi and took it back to our apartment to get some warmer clothes since the sun had gone down. Then, we walked down by the lake to find a place to eat dinner. We ate at a Thai restaurant that was absolutely delicious. Every dish that I smelled going by made me even hungrier as we waited for our food. I got Paat Thai with chicken, and we got brown rice to share. It was so good! We were all so hungry that we finished everything besides some of the rice that we took back with us. At this point, we were all exhausted and cold after walking/hiking over 11 miles. We left for our apartment and then just watched some TV before heading to bed.
We woke up and went to church at 10 with Kiley’s parents. Then, we got brunch at a café in the mall. I got pancakes with mixed berries and ice cream, and it was quite tasty. We got groceries and took everything back to our apartment. We were pretty tired from a mixture of lots of walking and exercise, jet lag (for Kiley’s parents), and a lack of good sleep. After hanging out for a bit, we walked to campus to show them where we spend a lot of our time studying and in class each day. Campus is pretty small, so there wasn’t a lot to show them once we got there, but it’s a pretty central campus with some grass and trees around. We sat at a picnic table for a little bit to enjoy the sun. Then, we walked to the lake to see it again and take advantage of the weather. We saw some cool birds and sat at a bench for a little while. The sun made us warm and tired, so we leaned on each other and soaked up the sunlight. The view of the lake was awesome. We got a little chilly as the wind picked up, so we headed back to the apartment. We sat around and talked for a while about life and the future. It was nice to catch up and just relax after so much activity the day before. Her parents left around 7, so Kiley and I made some dinner and watched TV for a while. We were pretty exhausted, so we weren’t very productive. However, that’s the way we like it. Sundays are usually our lazy days where we spend most of the day at our apartment doing chores and relaxing before the start of another week.
I have always had a dream to travel the world. I crave adventures and seeing new things. When in Iowa, I often find myself thinking about the next trip I’ll take. Last summer, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa with my best friend on a mission trip. On that trip, the people, culture, and unique opportunities got me hooked on traveling. I got the travel bug, and I don’t think it’s ever going to go away.
Studying abroad is one of the most unique and integrative ways to see a new place. I’m excited to see how I adapt to a new culture and make new friendships. I love the sense of adventure and spontaneity that comes along with going to another country. During my time abroad, I plan to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way whether it’s traveling somewhere new the next day or leaving for an “out of the blue” hiking trip. Meeting people from different countries really changes your perspective of the world; it reminds you that there are billions of other people in the world living their lives and trying to achieve their dreams just like you even if their cultures and backgrounds are different. I hope it will give me a more diverse understanding of the world.
Of course, studying abroad also has its advantages in the job market. It can help you stand out from the crowd of new students coming into the workforce after college. I think that this opportunity will challenge my knowledge and skills. It will also force me to go outside of my comfort zone and find new solutions to obstacles that come my way. I hope this experience will set me apart from others in the eyes of a future employer.
I’d love to be a social media intern for the Study Abroad Center at ISU. I think it would challenge me to take my time and put my best effort into my blog. It would help me focus on my writing and photography skills. More importantly, I would love to inspire more people to embark upon this journey. Photos and stories from people experiencing something amazing like studying abroad often make others aware of the chance they have to remarkably change their lives forever. As my semester in Canberra, Australia has already begun, I would love to share my past, current, and future adventures while I’m abroad.
I called my parents in the morning to catch up with them. I miss them and my doggy back home. In the middle of our call, the fire alarms went off, so we all had to leave. It turns out it was just someone burning their food. When we got the all clear to go back in, I called my parents back and talked some more. Then, I called my brother in San Francisco since I hadn’t talked with him in a while. He’s working on some cool stuff for the world. Chances are, he’ll be famous for being a genius someday. Meanwhile, I went to a free brunch at my residence while watching some of the Olympics. There were some huge muffins and juice. I talked with some friends and headed back upstairs to cook a bunch of food for the week. I did some laundry and then left for the gym. That evening, we went to our first rugby league game! We took a free bus to the game and got in with our free tickets. Some of us got $1 Raiders hats to cheer on the team and remember the night. We had a great time cheering on our Canberra team. Rugby is so much more fun to watch than football. When the clock says 40 minute halves…it actually means it. It doesn’t mean 40 minute halves plus an extra 2 hours of doing nothing. It was super fast paced, and it was interesting to learn the rules. We also got some free hot chips and drinks with our tickets, so that was nice. It got pretty chilly throughout the game, but it just made us more grateful to get back into bed that night.
I woke up and went to the gym to workout. After that, I headed home to shower and eat some lunch. I left for campus before my afternoon class to use the wifi for some homework. My class was about climate change and how humans are the only reason for it. It was interesting to see my professor disprove all of the other possible reasons for climate change. After class, I worked on some more homework, and then Kiley and I worked on planning our spring break trip to Cairns and possibly the Whitsunday Islands. That evening, there was another trivia night with free food; the theme was “Travel,” so we thought our team would do pretty well. It was pretty disorganized. It started late, and they didn’t have a lot of free food. It was fun anyways because our group made the best of the situation.
I had my nutrition lecture, lunch, and my sustainable communities tutorial. I went from there to the library to finish taking some notes on a chapter in the nutrition textbook I checked out. I also read some online articles and finished a quiz. I stopped by the apartment before going to a fitness class at the gym called “Body Attack.” It was so much fun! We ran, danced, squatted, planked, and much more within the hour long choreographed class. There were several songs that I knew well like “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and “We Belong.” When I got back, I ate some dinner and worked on some school stuff while watching TV.
Kiley and I had our Indigenous History and Identity lecture and tutorial. It was really hard to keep up with what they were talking about because they talked more about how past archeological findings affected issues today. We were lost; we had hoped this class would be about Australia’s history. It turns out they talk more about issues today, so I guess it’s assumed that we have a lot of background in that area. We both decided to see if we could join a different class and drop that one. We each found a class we wanted to switch to and asked the study abroad center how we do it. All we have to do is get the signature of the professor for the class we want to switch to since we missed 2 weeks of the class and then catch up on the work we missed. Hopefully we can get that figured out. I had my nutrition tutorial where we did an example for a 24 hour recall where you interview someone on what they ate the previous day to get an idea of the nutrients they’re getting on a daily basis. The rest of the evening, I watched TV, did laundry, made dinner, and did school work.
I worked out and swam that morning. Then, I headed back to the apartment to get lunch and everything I needed for the day. My goal this weekend was to get a bunch of school stuff done so that I don’t have to worry about it later when I’m traveling more and have more going on. Kiley and I went to the library and booked our flights to the Whitsunday Islands from Cairns and then back to Sydney. I’m so excited about our upcoming trips! Next, we studied for quite a while and got our classes changed. Now, I’m enrolled in a class called Food, Health, and Environment. I think I’ll like it much more than the other class. We got back to the apartment to make dinner around 6:45 and worked on some more school stuff. Then, we left to go see the 9pm showing of Bad Moms at the mall with some of our friends. This movie theatre has recliner chairs and is super fancy. We ended up going to see War Dogs because it was busy, and we wanted to sit together. It was interesting to learn about how these two guys in their twenties were selling guns to the Pentagon for military use. After the movie, we explored the mall a little and then left to get some sleep. It was really fun to go see a movie and relax in the comfy chairs while enjoying some snacks we brought. It’s sad that most of the fun things cost money.
Kiley and I woke up to go to Body Attack at the gym. It was great; we did a choreographed dance/running workout while listening to music that was way too loud. Next time I’m wearing ear plugs so I don’t go deaf from going to a fun fitness class. After that, we did some laundry and cooked and such before heading to the library to study for a while. It seems like time spent at the library just flies by. We were there for about 4-5 hours, and it felt like around 2. It’s hard to get back into studying and reading articles all the time, but I’m doing my best to keep working at things a little bit at a time. Once we got back, I worked on my blog a little and some school stuff that I didn’t need Wi-Fi for. Nicola, Kiley, and I left for the Village (on-campus housing) where we met some friends to attend free trivia in the hopes of getting free food and some fun. However, no one else was there, so we decided to go to the mall and get some frozen yogurt and hangout for a little while. Kiley and I showed them some of our lame dance moves since there were some throwback songs on the radio. We had a good time.
We got groceries in the morning. We were planning to meet our friends for a hike around noon, but it was pretty rainy and cold, so no one wanted to go anymore. Everyone decided to do it when the weather was nicer so that we could stay inside and be lazy or work hard (but at least we’d be warm). When we got back from getting groceries, Kiley and I had some deep life talks about faith and how crazy it is to think about eternity and how many things about God that are unknown. We decided that we’re going to read through the book of Romans together and talk about it together so that we continue to grow. It’s hard to go to church here since we’ll be gone so many weekends traveling, so we’re making the most of the situation. I usually listen to messages from the SALT Company in Ames while I’m working out as well. After our talks, we watched some rhythmic gymnastics on TV while studying. It’s crazy what those people do with the ribbons, balls, and batons. I was just watching feeling even more uncoordinated and graceful than usual. Some movies were on after that, so we watched them and studied some more. It was a much needed lazy day.
Friday: We got to Canberra around 5pm and got a free drive to Weeden Lodge with since we’re exchange students. When we arrived at Weeden, we got a bunch of paperwork to fill out. We got to our rooms and unpacked everything from our suitcases. I was surprised by some of the things I found in my suitcase since I had packed it so long ago, so that was nice. We also found out that our shower doesn’t drain. Next, we left for the mall nearby to get some snacks to celebrate that we finally got to Canberra. They have different things here, so we spent quite a bit of time exploring the options. We came back and watched the only movie Kiley has on her iTunes, Divergent, and ate our snacks. It was a good first day.
Saturday: We met my parents in the morning to go to the mall for essentials and groceries. We got a pillow, blanket, cleaning stuff, and school supplies before getting groceries. We also got prepaid phone plans at Telstra. They have Aldi here which is so great! It’s cheaper here than other stores just like in Iowa. After that, we went to Coles to get the rest of our groceries. We thought it was about time that we start celebrating, so we all got a bunch of delicious ice cream. We took everything back to our apartment and put it away after that. Then, we headed to my parents hotel to hangout since it was super nice. We watched some TV and ate some dinner and realized our phones still weren’t working. Kiley and I decided we would go back the next day to figure it out. We had a great evening, but it was also hard knowing that I wouldn’t see my parents again for 4 months. They drove us back and dropped us off. There were a few tears and several hugs. It was great that they could come and spend a little time with us to get us settled before leaving to go back.
We tried out a church nearby that morning. The service was pretty long, but it was nice to get to church again. After that, we left for the mall to use the Wi-Fi and get our phones fixed. We ate at a café there, and I got a new sim card for my phone that worked way faster than the last one. Kiley had to buy a new phone since hers was locked from her US carrier. She got a cheap phone, and we went back home to make dinner and go to bed early since we were still exhausted from New Zealand.
We had orientation from 9-noon. We first met some of our closer friends on that first day. They threw a lot of information at us that first day. A lot of it was very informative and included important things that we had to do that week. It’s always hard to sit in a lecture room for 3 hours after summer, but they had free food which was really nice. All the exchange students got free entry into Sky Zone for unlimited jumping time. It was really fun to jump around and do flips into the foam pit and get to know other students better. Afterwards, some of us went to a chocolate café right next to it to talk a little, and some people got hot chocolate or shakes.
We had orientation again from 9-noon that day. A surfer guy came in to talk about surf camp in October. He was really funny and a total surfer. It was pretty entertaining to watch him pretend surf up front. We signed up for surf camp that day because we knew we didn’t want to miss it.
We worked on our checklist of things to get done that week for most of the day. We also got a membership for the gym we go to. That night, we went out to the Lighthouse bar. It was a big party for students since classes started the next week. There was some theme, but we didn’t have a lot of extra clothes to dress up with. We had to pay to get in which wasn’t very fun, but we danced a lot and talked with some of our new friends. Kiley, Nicola, and I left somewhat early because we were still super tired.
We went to the gym for the first time in forever (yes I sang that in my head like the Frozen song). It was pretty great to do Body Pump and swim in the morning. We worked on a lot of things on our list again. We got our student ID cards, figured out where our classes were, and more.
I honestly don’t remember much about what we did this day because it was a while ago. I’m sure we went to the gym, did laundry, and packed for our trip to Syndey and the Blue Mountains the next day.
Canberra is the capital of Australia. Melbourne and Sydney were arguing about which one should be the capital, so they chose to intentionally create a capital city. They used the bush (forest) as the forefront of the city. There was a contest for whose proposed design for the city would work the best. They created the city with the government in mind. There are 3 main areas of Canberra. I live in Belconnen in a neighborhood called “Bruce.” The main city is called Civic. I haven’t been there yet, but that’s where you can get a famous “freakshake” at a café called Patissez. The other area is called Tuggeranong. I haven’t heard a lot about that yet.
You can’t see much of the city from the roads because of all the trees. The answer is yes, we see kangaroos regularly on campus and whenever we go hiking. The people here are very welcoming and friendly. We live about a 5 minute walk to Westfield mall which has everything we could ever want (as if we have money to buy anything above essentials). Our gym is Club Lime which is part of the Canberra International Sports and Aquatic Centre (CISAC), and it’s only about a 7 minute walk away. The University of Canberra campus is a 15-20 minute walk. We also live close to a pretty lake that’s nice to walk around. Everything we need is close enough that we can walk to it which is really nice.
It’s much drier here than Iowa in the middle of summer. I feel like I’m always thirsty and need to put on more chap stick, but it’s also nice not to have humidity. We have TV’s in our rooms which is nice. We get to watch some familiar shows like Ellen, Gilmore Girls, and Friends. We’re trying to save money on food, doing laundry ourselves, and walking instead of busing.
Overall, I think I’ll like Canberra. It has the city and the mountains nearby. It has trees and shopping malls. It has ice cream shops and an awesome gym. It has a nice sense of a balanced life. It’s in a nice location because there are several places we want to go that aren’t too far to travel. The environment is a nice place to live and fit into for the next four months.
This was the first day of classes technically, but I only have class Tuesday through Thursday. I went to the gym and then the library to use their Wi-Fi. I also did laundry, made some food, and caught up on my journal from the weekend in Sydney.
I had my first Sustainable Communities lecture that afternoon, and it was interesting. The professor seems passionate about the subject, and I’m excited to see another country’s views on conservation. That evening was trivia night. The theme was the Olympics and Australia in general, so our team of international students didn’t do the best. However, that didn’t stop us from getting our free pizza and chips (French fries). Our team had a pretty good time trying to figure out the answers.
I had my first Introduction to Nutrition lecture in the morning. I think I’ll enjoy learning more about what we should eat each day and how what we eat affects and fuels our bodies. I also had my first Sustainable Communities tutorial. That was much smaller, and we got to discuss things in more detail. Not having free Wi-Fi at my residence has really made me appreciate the free Wi-Fi and computers on campus.
My first Indigenous History and Identity lecture and tutorial. I think this class will be different than what I was expecting, but I hope it’s informative and interesting. I hope to learn more about Australia’s past and how that affects the country today. Kiley and I are in this class together, and another exchange student from Finland is in that class with us as well. I also had my first Introduction to Nutrition lab which was great. We compared our normal portion sizes with a serving size. I think I’ll like my teacher for that lab.
I don’t have classes on Fridays, so I went to the gym in the morning. I checked out a textbook from the library to study over the weekend. There was a scavenger hunt for exchange students at 2:30 around Canberra. We met and split up into teams with a student ambassador driving in each car. Our group had 2 girls from Germany, Kiley and I, and a University of Canberra student. We decided at the beginning that we wanted to win because we never win these things. We ran everywhere every time we parked at a new destination. We had to collect all kinds of Aussie things like Vegemite, a kangaroo (toy), a boomerang, and more. We also had themed pictures at each destination we had to drive through. We had a great time seeing everything in Canberra and taking crazy pictures. We ended up winning too which is awesome! We got a travel adapter and a $20 gift card to Coles (a grocery store). After the hunt, everyone met up for a barbeque to hang out and eat some food. We went from the barbecue to Cold Rock (an ice cream shop at the mall). I got some with peanut butter and Tim Tams in it. We all enjoyed our ice cream while getting to know each other better.
I tried to sleep in but didn’t sleep well that night. That afternoon Kiley, Nicola, and I walked along the lake by Weeden Lodge. It was a lovely day for a walk. Most of the time we talked about autumn and winter and Christmas. We talked about things that we’ll miss about fall and our family traditions that we’re excited for at Christmas. After our walk, we were pretty tired. We got back to our apartment and just watched TV while studying.
We left to go hiking in Tidbinbilla around 9:15am. It was about a 40 minute drive. We went to the visitor’s center first and saw some animals that were stuffed and learned some things about the native animals. From there, we drove to a koala sanctuary. Unfortunately, almost all of the Canberra koalas were killed in the bush fires in 2003, so now they’re trying to re-introduce them. We went on a little walk in the sanctuary and saw some wallabies. When we got back to the front where the koalas were, one of the joey koalas was out of its pouch. The baby was super adorable. After the koalas, we went to see some platypuses. They would come up for water every once in a while, but they were much smaller than I thought they would be. Next, we went left to go to the big hike. The hike up the mountain was kind of steep but not too bad. I had a great time getting to know new people and enjoying the views along the way. At the top, there were some amazing views. We spent some time eating some snacks, drinking some water, and taking in the scenery. The hike down was faster but somewhat steep at times. We had a great time, but by this point in the afternoon, we were all pretty hungry. We drove to a nearby park to play some sports and have a barbecue. We played catch with a Frisbee and football. After eating, some of us played a group game of soccer which was pretty fun. On the drive home, we were all pretty tired from the hiking and being in the sun all day.
We met at 6:45am for our 3 hour bus ride to Sydney. All 60 of us exchange students on the trip got free T-shirts along with maps of Sydney and the itinerary. We watched an Australian movie called Red Dog on the way there. We also played trivia where they asked us questions about Aussie lingo and different Australian facts. Our first stop was the Sydney Tower. We took an elevator to the top where we could look out the windows all the way around and see most of Sydney. The view was great, but it was kind of scary looking straight down at the ground because we were so high up. We went back down to the mall and ate some lunch. We got some gelato to go before we left. I got peanut butter fudge and creamy caramel. It was quite tasty. We walked to a Cathedral close by even though it was sprinkling slightly. The Cathedral was beautiful inside and out. There were tall arches throughout the ceiling, stained glass windows, and a beautiful set of the Stations of the Cross. We went from there to the Royal Botanic Gardens. We walked around for a while and saw plenty of neat plants and different birds. The trail lead us along the harbor where we had a great view of the Sydney Opera House and the bridge together. It was so cool to see such famous attractions. I had flashbacks to Finding Nemo, and that one Mary-Kate and Ashley movie in Australia. The view was awesome. After getting some typical tourist pictures, we kept walking along the water until we reached the Opera House for a group picture. After that, we left for Paddy’s Markets where there were plenty of vendors to get cheap souvenirs. Kiley and I got some $12AUD sweatshirts and some other little things. Then, we went to the Sydney Aquarium to see all the cool fish and sea creatures. We saw Nemo and Dori, plenty of starfish, some turtles, all kinds of different fish, and even some sharks. We got to walk through one of those cool archway tunnels where the fish can swim all around and over top of you, and that was pretty cool. Everyone met up at the Pontoon Bar in Darling Harbor right near the water for dinner. There was a great view of the dark blue sky, the lights of the city, and the water as the sun was about to disappear. After we all ate, we boarded the bus for our hostel in the Blue Mountains. We sat by the fireplace before going to sleep because we were cold and very tired from the long day.
We had an included breakfast at 8am and drove to Echo Point so we could see the Three Sisters and start our 1.5 hour hike down the mountain. The hike through the forest was super pretty and unique. There’s a reason they call them the Blue Mountains. Our hike started down a wide path but soon turned into a steep, narrow staircase. There were railings on both sides of us most of the way. By the end of the stairs, my calves were shaking involuntarily even though they didn’t hurt or ache. It was really odd. We walked along the trail for a while until we reached the bottom of the railway. The railway took us straight up back to the top of the mountain. We faced down, so we went up backwards. It was steeper than I expected, but it was pretty cool and had a great view. Once at the top, we explored the gift shop a little and had some snacks while we waited for everyone. Then, we went to the Featherdale Wildlife Park. We saw SO MANY Australian animals. There were wombats, emus, dingoes, snakes, crocodiles, koalas, kangaroos (and Joeys), wallabies, and tons of birds. The Joeys could hop right under the fences and roam about, so we got to pet several of them; they’re super fluffy. We also got to pet a koala while it was chilling in a tree sleeping. It was awesome. I wanted to just cuddle up with it and take a wittle nap. After seeing everything, we got some food and then left for the drive back to Canberra. It was a fun trip with lots of cool experiences, and we got to make some awesome friendships.
Woke up at 3:30am NZ time, 1:30am AU time for our 6am flight to Sydney. The flight was about 4-5 hours. Once we got to Sydney, we had to wait in the airport for 7 hours for our 3:30pm flight to Canberra. We got some ice cream with Oreos from Hungry Jacks which is what they call Burger King here. At this point, we would've rather been anywhere but the airport. But, we were excited to make Canberra our new home. The time is now. We were so excited to be in one place and get back into a routine, but we’re also so thankful for the time we got to spend in New Zealand. It was an incredible experience with astounding scenery and culture. I can’t wait for the adventures to come. Wish us luck!