When I was 9-years-old, I carefully duct taped a world map to a wall in my room. I labeled each country on the map where I wanted to travel with purple tape. I labeled the purple tape with numbers, starting with 1, on where I wanted to travel the most. The country that held the number one on the map and in my heart was Australia.
Seven years later, I received a letter in the mail and the chance of a lifetime. The letter was from the People to People Student Ambassador organization giving me the opportunity to travel Australia for three weeks. This was my biggest dream. The only catch was that only 40 students in the whole state of Illinois could be accepted to embark on this journey. Determined, I wrote multiple essays and helped with various community service projects to be accepted. With the right preparation, I could be on the first flight of the summer to Australia.
When the day finally came to adventure to my favorite country, I loaded up my overstuffed, zebra print suitcase and headed to the airport. I was more nervous than I had ever been. I had never ridden in an airplane, but the fact that I was riding it without my family made it made that day even more nerve wrecking. When I finally made it through the exhausting 22-hour plane ride to Cairns, I stepped onto Australian land with a smile on my face.
The first thing I got to experience was the Aboriginal way of life. Aborigines are the natives to Australian land. I practiced my hunting skills by throwing a spear and a boomerang, which actually came back. I then traveled to the Outback. I stayed on a farm and “roughed it” for a week. On the farm, I swam in a creek full of crocodiles, cared for cows, and cracked a bullwhip. As soon as I left the Outback, I headed to the Great Barrier Reef. Visiting in one of the Seven Wonders of the World is the number one on my to-do list. As soon as I got there, I quickly put on my snorkeling gear and dove in feet first. I snorkeled for six hours. I observed numerous colors of reef, fish, and I even saw 3 sharks. Then I headed to the Capricorn Caves. I got to experience beautiful rock formations that have formed over thousands of years. Then I loaded a ferry, and traveled to the Tangalooma Islands. Here I got to hand feed a dolphin. This was the second most exciting part of my trip. I also got to sand toboggan, feed wild pelicans, and hold a koala bear. Then I made my way to Sydney. Here I got to visit the Sydney Opera House and see where the most extravagant shows are performed. I then got to go up to the very top of the Sydney Sky Tower and view the whole city of Sydney.
The trip to Australia I took last summer was the most amazing experience of my life. Taking this trip without my family made me more independent and outgoing as a person. It made me realize how big the world really is outside of my little hometown and how much I can pursue in my life. The next country marked on my map to visit is France. Eiffel Tower…Here I come.
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