I love traveling, and throughout my life, I have pretty much been a traveler. My personal interest in travel grew when I got to go on my first trip overseas to Australia. In my traveling experiences, I have met new friends, seen some of the coolest places, and done amazing things: from swimming in the cold waters of the Great Barrier Reef in Carnes, Australia, to standing outside for six freezing-cold hours at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. These opportunities have been made possible through the student ambassador and leadership programs of People to People. Although I cannot share all of my awesome stories, I will focus on one of my favorite trips—to Australia.
I was accepted in 2004 into the People to People Student Ambassador Program. On my Australian adventure, 39 other students from my state and I were able to travel up the coast from Sydney to Carnes. Air travel to Australia is a long and lovely 12-hour flight, but it is definitely worth it. The country is full of beauty and diversity, like the Great Barrier Reef, the unusual animals, and the Sydney Opera House.
Our journey began in Sydney where the first stop was the Sydney Opera House (much more fascinating on the outside than the inside). Since this visit was immediately after a 12-hour airplane ride, our group of junior-high students didn’t enjoy the history as much as we probably should have. We tried to listen to our lady tour guide, who was giving us a narrative on the opera house, but I am pretty sure that everyone fell asleep about five minutes after she started talking.
From Sydney, we began our trip up the coast, stopping in various places along the way and seeing incredible things. One neat place that we visited was the Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, where I got to hold a koala. He was really cute and didn’t want to let go of me (and I didn’t want to let go of him either). There I, also, got to feed and pet kangaroos.
Next, we went off the coast to Frasier Island, where Dingoes live and run wild. While we were there, I was among a lucky few to be chased by a dingo because some of the boys with me weren’t very smart. Somehow, one evening in the hotel, I got left behind from the rest of the group along with three boys. To get to the place for dinner, we had to follow a difficult and confusing route. Of course, none of us had a map either! As we tried to find our way, one of the boys swore that he saw a dingo. Then, all three boys darted in the opposite direction (for reference, when encountering a dingo, the rule is to stay completely still, not run). I, however, wasn’t about to stay there by myself, so I ran after them. We were pretty scared by this time, but some nice people, who were also looking for the restaurant, helped us out.
Other than that little mishap, the rest of the trip went smoothly, except for when almost our entire group got sick on the boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. We quickly learned why our ship was known, also, as “the Barf Boat.” Once we got to the Reef, it was totally amazing, and I got to see a really cool sea turtle. Sadly, after Carnes, it was time to go home. With its animals and my adventures, Australia has remained among my favorite travel destinations.
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