I had seen youtube videos about how close the shipboard community was. I had not imagined how hard this goodbye would be. As the days counted down towards our arrival to San Diego I tried to enjoy every last moment. From the swim in the pool to the last movie night in my friends room. We stayed up all night prior to arriving in California. We played uno, started writing raps, and just enjoyed each others company. We created plans for a SAS reunion and had to say goodbye for now.
Studying abroad is such an amazing experience and you will not want to forget a single moment of it. To help me remember all of the amazing adventures I experienced as a part of Semester at Sea’s Fall 2019 voyage I kept a journal. After each day I would write down how my day was. I would write down how I felt, what I did, what I saw, and what my overall thoughts were. I would keep any small items that I have collected while visiting all these different countries. For each country, I visited I would buy one postcard and keep some of the currency they used. I would keep maps, pictures, train tickets, bus tickets, and business cards. I would glue all these items to my journal and in a few years, I will be able to look back at my journal and remember just how amazing my study abroad experience was.
Keeping a journal was my way of remembering my study abroad experience but there are many other ways you could capture your study abroad experience. You can do vlogs, an end of semester video or find another creative way to remember the good memories of this adventure. Do what works for you and cherish the memories you create.
As stated in previous blogs, I lived in Surfers Paradise which is a city directly on the beach. This in my opinion is probably the best place live for someone who is temporarily living in the Gold Coast and is new. This is because the city has an assortment of options for all your living needs and has the best transportation. Plus the beach is always really close! This was the view of my apartment and the beach that is practically a 1 minute walk from the front desk.
I am so fortunate to live in an amazing location and will always recommend people the same place I stayed. The apartment I lived in was called Surfers Century. At the time I lived there it was filled with other international students who also attended the same university as me, Griffith University. During my stay it was a lot of Americans for some reason all were from Pennsylvania. However, every semester it is filled with international students who all typically attend Griffith University.
Transportation was also something that made life so easy in Surfers Paradise and Gold Coast altogether. To go to school I would use the light rail system that travels up and down the coast. From my apartment to University it would take about 30 minutes to get to class. What made this system so simple was their paying methods. I got a gocard which is what they called it and this card worked pretty much like a debit card for public transportation. You would use this card to tap on every time you got on a bus, light rail, train or any public transportation provided by the state. And all you had to do was transfer money onto the card every time your balance got low. What I would do was put 50$ on at a time which would typically last a month or so. However, what I really loved about their public transportation was the ability to bring your surfboard. In Hawaii, the bus is our only transportation and surfboards are not allowed. In the Gold Coast, you were allowed to bring surfboards and but it gets better. It the light rail train system there were even board holders inside the train. This allowed you to lock your board up safely while you road to where ever you were going. The transportation was amazing and I was so lucky to have a system like this to facilitate such a great experience.
I am a huge surfer and every time I travel somewhere I try my very best to surf as much as I can. There is just some thing about the feeling of surfing a new spot especially when the waves are good. I grew up surfing in Hawaii and could say my expectations for waves are pretty high. When planning my semester in Gold Coast, I knew there was good waves before I went. But I never knew what to truly expect. Let's just say my expectations were fully met. I lived in an apartment in the main city which was a 3 minute walk to the beach. This was amazing but it gave the opportunity to literally walk to the beach every single day and surf. I literally would surf every single day once in the morning once for sunset, with friends or by myself. However, unfortunately my semester was the main season for surfing. So though I surf a lot of great waves and had some amazing sessions, I also surfed some pretty poor waves. Just the ability to walk to the ocean and surf was a blessing in itself. During there Fall (January-April) is when the waves on the Gold Coast turn from really good to world class. Surfers from around the world gather and surf these amazing swells produced by Cyclones. These waves are right handers and when it's a perfect swell you can be barreled multiple times on one single wave.
However, with these great waves comes a huge crowd of people. Considering what I said about not being in the best season for surfing with this next statement. When I surfed one of the better swells for the winter season there were about 200-300 people in the water. All of them, including me, fighting for these amazing waves. This takes place and snapper rock, this infamous and world class surf spot. Considerably one of the best waves in Australia. Considering the constant and insane crowd of people at Snapper I would often surf other spots. Gold coast, oddly enough is a long coast filled with golden surf spots. Where I lived up North was the top of the Gold Coast where the waves started then going all the way down south to Snapper rock and Duranbah was the end and the epicenter of amazing waves. Whenever, I felt like getting great waves and fighting the crowd I would go down south. This actually happen pretty often, lucky enough to have a good class schedule I would catch the light rail train system and the bus for 40-60 minutes down south every morning for sunrise just to score these great waves. Later throughout the semester I made a great group of friends who surfed and had cars. This was a real advantage and was able to check out some secret spots that I cant name haha. However, lets just say my favorite spot on the Gold coast was less than a 15 minute drive from my apartment in Surfers Paradise. At this spot it has some of the best beach breaks barrels than anywhere I have surfed in the world. Surfing in Australia and especially the Gold Coast is a must. If you surf, and there is swell, there is a good chance you score some great waves!
My time in Australia was amazing and I enjoyed every part of it. There was a lot to do especially outdoors. Where I am, whether it be traveling or at home I like to include going outside in my daily life. Where I lived in Australia was a city directly on the beach which was amazing for surfing, which I will get into on my next blog. However, nature was really never hard to find in the Gold coast. Where most people lived was pretty flat except for the few hills spread out a long the coast. These were actually great little hikes and had some exceptional views like this one.
This was a hike that my friends and I commonly did for sunset. Considering it's short length and really cool views. In the background is the city I lived in and a short bus and train ride would get me to Burleigh, which is also where my friends lived. Besides these short little hikes, gold coast was pretty flat. Coming from Hawaii I am pretty used to ridge hikes on mountains. Gold coast luckily had a national forest but it was an 1-2 hour drive. It was called Springbrook national forrest. Whenever I had the opportunity to go with friends who had a car, I would. There are fun ridge hikes, but mainly Springbrook had a lot of beautiful waterfalls. Unfortunately, during the time I lived there was the dry season. So there were still waterfalls but they were somewhat small compared to the summer. Heres a picture of a waterfall I loved.
Natural bridge waterfall
This waterfall was insanely beautiful and was actually really special to local people. This is because of the luminous fungi that lived within. Unfortunately, only really glowed during the summer. I loved Australia for a lot of things. But one thing that was much different was the wildlife I encountered when hiking. In Hawaii, typically you only encounter wild life in the Ocean. Where in Australia there were always some cool animals lurking around. Like this cool dude.
Hiking in Australia was an amazing experience and though I have 100's of pictures for the numerous hikes I did. I only scratched the surface, there is so much to experience in the Australian outdoors!
I am so sad that this semesters study abroad students were all impacted and had to return home and cut their travels short due to the shutdowns of COVID-19. I was sad to leave all my new friends and wondered how was this online learning thing going to go? Was it going to hinder my grades/learning? Will I still get to finish? Will my credits transfer? Will I graduate on time?
I had my last weekend trip to London, and when I got back to my apartment I had to make flight arrangements to come home 2 days later. Once returning back to Colorado, where I am from, I was able to finish all of my online courses and SKEMA, the school I was attending, was very understanding with the time zone changes and worked with us, allowing a larger window for our exams to be turned in to accommodate for students that were not in France anymore.
I think what I am most upset about with this whole thing, is the plans I made to travel with friends. Tomorrow I was supposed to be starting a 2-week road trip across Morocco, with a few French students that I met in one of my classes. I am extremely bummed that we won’t be getting to do it, but it gives me a reason to go back and get to see the people I met and go on an epic adventure once the world is healthy again!
I am glad to be home with my family in this time of crisis and cannot wait for our world to go back to normal!
I hope everyone is staying safe, and had the best time abroad while it lasted.
Who wants to plan a trip for once all this is over?!
This was my first weekend trip of the semester and I just went with a big group of people that I had just met that week. We took this bus called a FlixBus ($26) from Nice to Genova, Italy where we stayed Saturday to Monday in an Airbnb. We had amazing Italian food all weekend long. We took a 1-hour train ride to a near city called Portofino which had beautiful site seeing and lookout areas above the ocean. Going with a big group was nice, but it is also a little hard with so many people sometimes. So, I suggest traveling in groups of 5 or less.
Weekend trip #2 and I will definitely be going back in the future! It was beautiful (even with the rain and fog) so I can only imagine what it looks like with clear weather and sun. Here we did a ton of walking. The main places we stopped at were the Gellért thermal baths, Buda Castle, got some good luck at the statue, Fisherman’s Bastion, River cruise down the Duna River, checked out the House of Parliament, and met some cool people from around the world. Budapest has food that is to die for, stew, goulash soups, and mulled wine to keep us warm in the 30 degree weather.
Monte Carlo, Monaco:
Monaco is another place I got to visit. It was a 45 minute train ride from where I lived in Juan Les Pins. Round trip about 17 euros. This is a place you want to pack a lunch and bring it with you because the least expensive thing in this country is a 6 euro Coca Cola! They are know for their luxury shopping and yacht club, as well as their Casino. I went to the aquarium and it was actually the cheapest aquarium I have ever been to, 10 euros for students, and absolutely incredible!
Stuttgart, Germany and Strasburg, France:
Had a fun filled weekend in Stuttgart, Germany and Strasbourg, France. We ate amazing food and saw awesome sights. Met up with a friend we met on our weekend trip to Budapest and of course walked a ton. We went on one of the last open to the public conveyer belt elevator, climbed to the top of the Strasbourg Cathedral, and ate in my first Michelline Star restaurant. In Germany, they have these giant stuffed raviolis, by far my favorite food I have had abroad.
Stayed in town this weekend and my best friend from high school who was an exchange student came to visit me from Italy! I haven’t seen her in two years and we picked up right where we left off. Checked out the night life in Nice. We had a day trip to Cannes for a day of shopping and a trip to Nice and saw Promenade Des Anglais, Marche Aux Fleurs, Place Garibaldi, and walked up the stairs to the lookout of Bellanda Tower.
Walks, wine, and charcuterie boards on the beach by my apartment happened quite often.
Prague, Czech Republic:
Na zdraví to the best weekend in Prague. I was able to stay with my friend Haley who is doing study abroad, which was a great way to save on housing while I was there. In this quick little weekend trip we saw the crawling babies, Charles Bridge, Prague castle, Katedrála Svateho Víta, John Lennon wall, dancing building, Prague astronomical clock, NH Prague hotel to ride the gondola to the top for an amazing view. Haley took me out to her favorite stops and we grubbed out on some delicious food along the way. I highly recommend going to Prague if you get the chance, I loved it there and will definitely be going back one day!
Holiday Break – Paris / Kehl, Germany / Luzern, Switzerland / Milan, Italy (mom and Gramma)
Finally can check Paris off my bucket list! My mom and gramma finally made it to Europe after some complications, but my friend Haley came to keep me company on another spontaneous weekend trip!
In Paris we went to the Musse D’orsay, watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle at the top of the hour, took an electric scooter to see the Louvre lit up at night, walked to the Notre Dame, walked the 1000+ stairs at the Eiffel Tower, Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and at fondue and wine out of baby bottles*** à A MUST GO if in Paris!!
Kehl, Germany, Strasbourg, France, Lucerne, Zug, and Geneva, Switzerland!
Definitely a packed full week playing tourist with my 2 favorite ladies. We went to Kehl, because my my moms maiden name and my grammas last name is Kehl, so we thought it would be cool to get to say we went and stayed in Kehl, Germany! Gramma could not find any sweatshirts that said KEHL on them and there are no German restaurants in Kehl, Germany, everyone told use to go to Strasbourg, FRANCE for German food! The astronomical clock at the Strasbourg Cathédrale was more interesting to learn about then actually watch. It is incredible how the astronomical clocks work, and I have no idea how someone was able to come up with it.
Switzerland was breathtaking with Lake Lucerne, cheese factory, Swiss alpes, chocolate factory making chocolate bars, lake Zug, and lots and lots of yummy cheese fondue. Switzerland is somewhere to visit after you’ve been saving up for a long time and know that once you go you won’t have very much left… or go with your mom!
Being able to have my mom and gramma come visit and travel for 2 weeks was such a highlight and something I will never forget, I am so thankful they were able to come before the outbreak and shutdowns!
Last weekend trip of study abroad in London. Took pictures at platform 9 3/4, Covent gardens, Buckingham palace, went to the London aquarium, took a ride on the London Eye, went through Tower Bridge, walked all 311 stairs to the top of the Monument. Traveling with Kayley (my roommate) was quite the trip and I’m so happy I found such a great roommate.
She will be a forever friend and I can’t wait to visit her, her visit me, and plan another adventure together!