Conversations while stuck at McDonalds

Through a combination of laziness, my Mac Book having issues, getting access to One Tree Hill reruns, etc., I haven’t blogged in awhile. However, the notes app in my phone is flowing with thoughts I jotted down to remember to post later.

I have intentions to eventually make a post reflecting on each of the places I visited, especially because I’m doing this for an assignment, but for now I’m just posting my current thoughts.


Today is Sunday, May 4, and I’m on a 2.5 hour bus ride home from the Gold Coast with 3 of my Minnesotan friends: Lexi, Shawna, and Bre. Last week, the girls heard about this “Neon Run”, a 5K race taking place in the Gold Coast Saturday night. I didn’t really feel like going through the trouble to book it, especially since I’ll be traveling for the next month, so I declined the invitation.


Friday night, I got this bizarre feeling telling me to go. At this point, the girls had already registered for the race, booked their bus rides (round trip) and made arrangements to stay at a friend’s house in the Gold Coast after the race. At around midnight, I got curious and looked up bus tickets and entry fees for the run. Both were open- so I went for it… and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.


The bus from Lismore to the Gold Coast was scheduled at 3 am, so we had a taxi pick us up from our school at 2:20 am. I had less than 2 hours to shower and pack so sleeping obviously wasn’t an option. After very minimal sleep on the bus, we finally arrived in the Gold Coast at about 5:15 am… it was dark- and cold. And we had no place to go…


After aimlessly walking through the streets of Surfer’s Paradise, Gold Coast, we found a few places to take shelter (ATM lobby of a bank, Hungry Jack’s [Burger King with a different name]) until we walked over to the beach to see the sunrise.

The sunrise was amazing but it was still way too cold out to stay on the beach that early in the morning.


Luckily, we found accommodation in a McDonalds (or as the Aussie’s call it, “Macca’s), but we had several hours to kill before the sun was strong enough to bear the cold outside.


So anyone who knows me knows that when sitting in a group I often throw out random survey-type questions to stir interesting conversation, such as making everyone say their peak and their pit after a night out or an adventure. I think I get that from my dad or my brother, who always toss out “Would you rather” type questions at Ponzio’s for dinner.


So 4 of us girls are sitting around a table in McDonald’s, all of our bags spread on the ground just trying to kill time, and we start reflecting on our study abroad experience. Pondering the subject internally, I throw out the question “How do you think you’ve changed since you’ve studied abroad?”


I couldn’t even answer the question myself, and I was the one who asked it. I studied abroad for all the wrong reasons. That’s okay, though. Because the desire for warm weather, a new adventure, and getting away from Scranton for a semester brought me to this. And “this” is so much more than that.


I can’t even begin to explain how I’ve changed. Before you study abroad, everyone tells you how “life changing” it is, or how much you’re going to love it. I wish I could put into words how much of an understatement that is.


I’ve always been one to roll my eyes at the cheesy cliché phrases such as “It’s about the journey not the destination”


There is so much truth behind that statement.


This is my idea of the journey.


The journey is finding luxury in McDonalds.

The journey is the feeling you get when you discover free WiFi.

The journey is appreciating a clean public bathroom or shower.

The journey is appreciating the fact that you get to shower at all. (Living in the Outback for 7 days does that to you)

The journey is not depending on a straightener or curling iron, and learning to appreciate what you look like naturally.

The journey is learning to do whatever it takes to avoid paying luggage fees, whether it be wearing 15 layers of clothing through security or leaving “essentials” like the blow dryer at home.

The journey is depending on the kindness of strangers when asking them for help or directions… or to take a picture for you

The journey is meeting people from all over the world and after just knowing them just a few months, you feel closer to them than people you’ve known for years

The journey is living without a car and depending on locals to drive you everywhere- or learning the local bus schedule and relying on that to get anywhere

The journey is giving yourself “5 minutes of complaining time” with Donna and Synthia

The journey is learning not to expect things to come immediately- tipping isn’t a thing in Australia, so food servers have less of an incentive to bring your food in in a timely manner… and theres nothing you can do about it

The journey is the realization that driving on the left side suddenly feels… normal. And you don’t know how you feel about that

The journey is sitting alone in a restaurant alone without your phone. You learn so much about yourself in these situations- where you choose to sit, the way you treat the waiter, what you order, and where you draw your attention while waiting for your food- because people watching is the only thing you have

The journey is living with four (basically 5) Australian boys who you want to strangle most of the time- but often think about how you can’t imagine how your life is going to be without them

The journey is the unexplainable embarrassment at the realization that the world is much bigger than the Tri-state area… I can’t believe what a bubble I lived in before

The journey is learning to laugh when the train you’re supposed to ride is closed or that you forgot to pack socks

The journey is accidentally breaking a strangers laptop and being able to laugh videos of it

The journey is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

The journey is trying to navigate in an unfamiliar place with 10 people… and learning that patience is undoubtedly and absolutely a virtue.

The journey is realizing that other people aren’t saying it the wrong way- they were just raised to pronounce it differently (the ADIDAS/”addidus” argument will never get old)

The journey is realizing that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and spending it being homesick is a waste of your money and time

The journey is knowing that the decision to study abroad was the best decision I’ll ever make, as long as I live.


I could go on forever… But I know that list is infinite, especially because I plan to go back to Sydney, then to Cairns, Bali, and New Zealand in the next 5 weeks.



I am so lucky to be having this experience and couldn’t imagine my journey being any different.


I was just reminded of a quote from one of the Study Abroad presentations at Scranton last semester… “If you want to remain exactly the same, don’t study abroad.”


Until next time xo


My first attempt at a Blog Post

Hi Pals! My “Perspectives on Australia” professor assigned us to keep a journal throughout the semester, so I figured i’d share mine with everyone back home.

I’ve never been one to keep a diary so I’m not really used to this whole writing my feelings down ordeal so bear with me…

It seems like pictures entertain people. So maybe I’ll just post a picture or two after every paragraph.


…Where do I begin? I’m currently on a bench sitting outside my apartment overlooking an inground pool. Today is the last day of “summer”. If you didn’t know, our seasons are switched around, so our winter is their summer and vice versa.



Even though it was almost a month ago, I still remember my flight here like it was 5 minutes ago. I met my friend Donna at the Newark Airport after having one last meal with my parents. (With Sangria, of course) This was right before my mom sobbed… Poor thing. Good thing she has tax season and the dogs to distract her

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Luckily, Donna and I were able to sit next to each other on the plane. The flight from Newark to LA was the longest I had ever flown (until my next flight). It started out okay… until the little girl next to us started playing Candy Crush on the loudest setting of her iPad. It took everything in me not to say anything… but eventually, after an hour and a half, I politely asked her put it on silent. (Is this the kind of stuff I’m supposed to include in my blog??)


The maps on the plane kept me sane^^^

The night before, I downloaded like 3 books to my Mom’s iPad to read on the flight. Dummy me only got the Free Samples  (like who does that?), and I was only able to read the first 10 pages of each book. Unfortunately, no movie was playing, so I was forced to buy “The Heat” for $8.

Donna and I got off the flight and realized that our gates were absolutely nowhere near each other. I can honestly say, at that point in my life, the next 16 hours were the most independent ones of my life. It was such an incredible feeling going through security, finding my gate, getting on the plane, sitting on a 14 hour flight, going through customs, getting my luggage, and finding the SCU banner… completely ALONE. (okay I had some help with the luggage; it was really heavy…)

The flight was awesome… fortunately, the seat next to me was vacant so I was able to have a tiny bit more leg room. I slept for 10/14 hours. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m really big on napping. So honestly, I think my sleep schedule was already so messed up that jetlag hasn’t affected me at all… There’s a 16 hour time difference, by the way.

Now that I’m settled in, I’ll move on to my life here at school…

I live with 5 other people… 4 australian boys and 1 girl from california. Their names are Sam, Spencer, Josh, Rowan, and Kelly.  One boy who lives upstairs, Johno, is considered to be our 7th roommate because he only leaves our apartment to sleep. My roommates and I combined make for a very dysfunctional, yet hilarious living situation. Our apartment got inspected for cleanliness last night … Unfortunately, we failed the inspection… (But that was pretty much expected)

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So far, The hardest part of adjusting to living in Australia is definitely the food situation. When you move to another country and the only thing you’ve ever “cooked” before is Elio’s pizza, you’re in for a severe reality check. Scranton’s cafeteria is one of the best in the country, so having to go grocery shopping and prepare my own meals is harder than you can imagine. One of the first nights I asked my roommate, Kelly, if it was possible to make a grilled cheese on a tortilla roll. She informed me that that is in fact how you make a quesadilla…

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Im trying…..

Fortunately, all of my Australian roommates have cars and they’ve all been super nice about giving me a ride to “The Square”, which is basically a mall with grocery stores… Something I found so weird: The Grocery stores are in the mall… so after you go grocery shopping, you walk around the mall with your cart- like you go in clothes stores with a shopping cart full of groceries… isn’t that weird?

So far, I’ve just been getting adjusted to school and the surrounding town. My school, Southern Cross University is located in Lismore, New South Wales. The campus I live on, Orion College, has done an amazing job of getting all of the internationals adjusted by giving us free food and tons of social events to get to meet everyone. So far, the themes we’ve had are Hawaiian, Pajamas, Back to School, Toga, and Smurf. Being legal to drink is so weird… I never expected to be encouraged to play Thumper with my RA.

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I’m really starting to catch up on the lingo and embrace my inner Aussie.. Here are some things I’ve learned so far

1.No one actually calls girls “sheila”… Thats more of an old timer thing.. Like your grandpa may ask if “you’ve got yourself a sheila”

2. Almost always, Aussies will say “I reckon” instead of “I think”

3. KFC is often referred to as “dirty bird” … Which like really grosses me out

4. McDonalds is 100% of the time referred to as “Maccas”

5. The reason everything is so ridiculously expensive is because minimum wage is $17/hour… i know.. insane

6. Large quantities of something is referred to as “heaps” … For example: Last night was heaps of fun! or Im buying heaps of food later!

7. Drunk calling your mom at 2am to let her know that the local grocery store delivers probably won’t make her a happy camper… i still never got my delivery and that was 2 weeks ago

8. Having a life proof phone case does not mean you should throw it in the pool for fun

9. Australians do in fact believe in Santa Clause

10. If someone is playing dizzy bat (or dizzy cricket) everyone within 50 feet should put their valuables away. (I learned this the hard way)

11. Why the heck does America think they’re above the metric system?! Its so much easier to use!!

12.  You don’t actually ride kangaroos to class

13. People will laugh at you if you say “Put another shrimp on the barbie, mate” … No one even calls it shrimp.. Theyre called “prawns”

14. You don’t refer to your best friend as “mate”. You’d be more likely to call the cashier at Maccas “mate”

15. It is the law to have horrifying pictures on cigarette packs. So far i’ve seen rotted teeth, a dead baby, and black lungs. Definitely a good thing!!

16. I will never ever get used to the whole driving on the left side of the road thing. Not to mention Its so embarrassing everytime i yell “shotgun” and get in on the drivers side.

17. It is definitely possible to cram 12 girls into a room to watch the bachelor from a laptop screen.


18. And finally… The most important thing I learned is that inexpensive boxed wine is called “goon” and that is the ONLY thing anyone drinks here. Cheers!!!



Look I met some new pals xoxo

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PS I’m not much a nature person, and i’m doing a terrible job of taking scenery pictures. I’ll work on it.