Well, I have to say that I am a bit sad to leave Gold Coast, the city I have called home for the last few months. My last week here since we got back from Melbourne has been great. I've been to the beach, went up to Brisbane to see a friend and hangout in the city, took a surf lesson and fell completely in love with the sport (see photos here), and today went up to the top of the Q1 Building with a friend for a final look out over the city. Tomorrow will be filled with packing and last minute errands, and then I'm off! I will definitely miss this country, but I am also really excited for new adventures in New Zealand - Hiking, camping, kayaking, and (hopefully) more surfing here I come!!
I’m down to my final days in Australia now - I leave in less than a week for New Zealand. It’s a bittersweet feeling - another chapter of life closes as I depart from the country that has been home for two months and pack up my things once again for a new adventure.
I’ve been contemplative lately regarding all that I’ve learned while traveling over the last year. I’ve backpacked through seven different Central- and South- American countries, lived with a local family and worked for 3 months in Italy, made a brief visit to see old friends in Denmark, and am just finishing up two months living with/working for a family here in Australia. The Lord has been intentional through all of my travels, using each unique culture to teach me a variety of lessons - some more difficult than others, but all in His perfect timing.
I have been surprised though, at what I’ve learned. Before embarking abroad for the first time apart from Honduras, I had some ideas in my head about the things I would “see” or “learn” abroad. But of course, these were things that I had only conjured up in my mind, and not yet experienced. I had expected to be confronted with the challenges of dealing with uncomfortable climates or trying exotic foods that I might dislike (yet this has been the least of my troubles, I’ve somehow become the least picky eater ever! The only thing I still refuse to eat is Vegemite - that truly is disgusting!). I figured that I would make some culturally inappropriate mistakes or butcher the local lingo.
I did not expect to be slapped in the face with just how different my own culture is from the rest of the world. Maybe that sounds silly, like of course we are different, every person and country and culture is unique - yes. But it’s easy to say that; it’s more difficult to fully grasp.
Well, I've just arrived back "home" to the Gold Coast after a week-long vacation in Melbourne. What an incredible city! I have fallen completely in love - I highly recommend it as a must-see destination to all of my fellow traveler friends. There is so much culture packed into this hipster city. There are hidden alleys filled with quirky restaurants and cafes and tons of street art. The food and coffee is delicious, and the music from the many "buskers" (Aussie lingo for street performers) is great! I'm glad I got to spend a week here, although I feel like I could spend months in the city, and still discover new alleys and hole-in-the-wall places to eat or get a drink every day. Some highlights from my trip were Hosier Lane, The Old Melbourne Gaol, and the time I had to just wander the streets and explore. We also made a day trip's drive along The Great Ocean Road, which was beautiful! Check out more from Melbourne here, and from The Great Ocean Road here.
So today one of my childhood dreams came true and I finally got to visit Sea World for the first time (although when I was younger, I hadn't expected to go in Australia.) Anyways, I was super excited, and the Affinity Dolphin Show left me dreaming about being a dolphin trainer someday ;) Oh, and I discovered that sharks still give me the creeps, even when they are inside of a glass tank.
Today I was so excited to watch my very first Aussie Surf Competition! I had gone out to Burleigh Heads for a hike on Burleigh Hill, but on my way I saw a ton of people lined up along the water. As I got closer, I realized that it was the 2016 Burleigh Boardriders Single Fin Festival! I delayed my hike and stayed out to watch part of the competition, which was really cool! It was just like what I had seen in the movies...Surfers out floating in the water with their boards until a big wave came, then one at a time they would catch a wave. The funny and energetic announcers would commentate the whole thing, using a lot of local lingo that I didn't always understand, but enjoyed because of their accent :) Afterwards, I finally made my way over to Burleigh Hill, where I hiked the Oceanview Track and the Rainforest Circuit. Both trails were disappointingly easy (I had felt ready for a long, challenging hike!), but the view from the Tumgun Lookout made it worth it anyways.
Click here to see more photos from Burleigh Heads in Gold Coast, Australia!
Well, the first few days of the new year have been great. On Saturday, I went on the weekly "Dad's Family Drive" with the kids and dad of my Australian family. We drove up to the Sunshine Coast, where we visited Noosa Heads on the beach and Montville in the hinterland. On Sunday, I visited an Acts 29 church here in Gold Coast for the first time, and it was great! I actually met a girl who attended Western Washington University at the same time I did. Though we never met in Bellingham, we did in Australia 3 years later - what are the chances of that?! Today I took Harper (one of the children I care for) to Paradise Country, an Aussie Farm, where we fed kangaroos, cuddled koalas, and had some other cool experiences.
Happy New Year! I was fortunate to ring in 2016 with some girls I've met here from Chile, Brazil, and Switzerland on Surfer's Paradise Beach in Gold Coast. We celebrated with a delicious dinner at the Brazilians' home, and then walked out onto the sand to watch the fireworks at midnight. We even stepped out into the water to "skip seven waves," which apparently is a tradition for good luck in Brazil! It was a fun evening, and a wonderful start to 2016!
As I reflect on the year that has just passed, I feel so fortunate for how God has provided for me to visit new places and meet incredible people. He has pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and learn from the experiences. Never would I have thought that I would be taking step in 13 different countries this year! It only reminds me that God's plans are always greater than my own. I have learned so much over the last year while being abroad, and I am thankful that God knows my heart and love for travel, and has chosen to use it to teach me and grow me. I flipped through the journal I have kept throughout all my travels, and it's pretty cool to realize how purposeful God has been in each place that He has taken me. Here are some of my favorite moments from 2015:
This year has been full of unexpected, yet wonderful surprises! In 2016, I am hoping to continue traveling, learn more Italian, and most importantly to grow in my relationship with the Lord and trust Him to guide my steps.
I believe in God's grace through Jesus. I love to learn, in a variety of contexts - reading God's Word, interacting with people from diverse backgrounds around the world, and as a student of Linguistics and Foreign Languages at Western Washington University. Pages of My Passport is dedicated to sharing this journey of learning through written and visual content.