Summer after freshman year of high school, still so young and curious about the world I got the opportunity of a lifetime. On a whim I applied for a summer abroad to Australia. I was accepted and within 6 months, and on a plane by myself to fly across the world. It was the best experience of my life. Walking out of the airport terminal and finding my host parents and siblings waiting for me, it was scary, but incredibly exciting. I lived 20 minutes outside of good old Sydney and I’d take the train and buses into town on my own and explore as much as I could, even though I did get lost a couple of times, but I always got to my destination! We went to the aboriginal cultural center and learned how to play didgeridoos, watched native dances, and shot bow and arrows. Took a boat trip through Daintree River spying crocodile, snakes birds and other creatures along the way, then arrived at Crocodylus and stayed in small tent houses in the middle of the rain forest. We would ride our bikes to a private beach secluded by rocks with perfect sand and waves. Our group stumbled upon the most amazingly beautiful cove, covered with rocks and pebbles, the clearest water, shaded by long hanging trees and small cliff edges to jump into the water from. One of our last and most memorable trips was the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkeling along the reef and exploring the immense amount of fish and coral, and taking pictures with sea creatures is something I will never forget. As well as these amazing places I traveled to, the people that I traveled with are people that changed my life as well. I made instant friends with another girl, Kendra also from the US and a guy, Michael, from Belgium. We still talk to each other from time to time even after 3 years.
The new foods that I was able to try during my stay were. My first night there the family made lamb. I had never had lamb before, but am so glad that I was able to; I’ve craved it ever since that night. For dessert, mint ice cream with strawberries and ginger cookies, I thought it was the weirdest combination at first, but after the first bite I was in love. One item of food I will never cease to crave was from a simple coffee shop in the strip mall in Sydney. It was a warm buttery pastry almost scone or biscuit like, with strawberry jam and butter. I went back twice solely for those pastries. I even stocked up on some of my favorite foods to bring home and share with the family.
Because I was so young, it was hard to adjust to being so independent, but it definitely helped me. I controlled all my money spending and had to be in certain places at certain times and on and on. It truly helped me find myself and learn to trust my decisions and take responsibility. I learned a lot of independence and grew in my maturity and knowledge. I was able to go to a foreign place with no one I knew and adapt to a new families way of life. I was also lucky enough to experience a new culture, and learn the history of another country more hands on. Because of that trip I have fallen in love with travelling and am currently planning a trip to Ireland for the summer after graduation, but my traveling with definitely not stop there.
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