Going to Australia has been a dream of mine ever since I saw the Mary Kate and Ashley movie, Our Lips Are Sealed. Crime, mystery, friends, romance, accents, and kangaroos- what more could a girl want? And of course when I saw cycle 8 of ANTM in the fashion capital of Sydney, I knew that I had to go there as soon as possible. In the summer of 2011 I was presented with an opportunity to be a student ambassador with People to People, along with 40 other high school students from California, Washington, New York and Pennsylvania. The trip was three weeks long and one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Of course it would be impossible to share every single activity and picture in one blog post, but I will try to highlight all the important stuff
It was the longest time I’ve ever been away from my family and it definitely gave me a sense of independence and responsibility. We started off in Cairns and worked our way down to Sydney. We were busy from 7am to 11pm every single day, but always having an activity planned was the best part. Immediately after getting off the plane, we boarded our bus and met Stu, our Australian tour guide who took us to our first stop- the rainforest. We got to ride the sky rail across the trees and venture into the forest, learning all about the wildlife and biodiversity. The second day we got to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef and swim with the underwater plants and creatures. That night we visited the street market to go shopping for food, souvenirs, and trinkets.
We got to see kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and other native Australian wildlife in the Billabong Sanctuary wildlife center. Then we took a trip to the Outback to really see the animals actually in the wild- unfortunately, this meant a lot of bugs and insects too. It was definitely an interesting and once-in-a-lifetime experience staying at a farm. In Queensland, we learned about the aboriginal culture, practiced traditional dances, and even got to throw a boomerang! We also stopped by the Capricorn Caves to do some exploring and climbing.
Tangalooma was an island we went to for 3 days and got to experience all sorts of adventurous things- sand tobogganing, dolphin-feeding, sandcastle building, swimming, hanging out on the beach, and exploring the private island. Afterwards, we traveled to a small town to have a home stay with different families. I got to stay with two little girls and also attend school with them, go bowling, out to dinner, and shopping.
Unfortunately, my digital camera actually broke right before we got to Sydney (just my luck) but my friends let me take a few pictures on their own cameras and phones, and then sent me ones they took as well once we were all back home. The Sydney Harbor was absolutely breathtaking- we didn’t get to climb over the bridge though, which I plan to do next time I’m there. We toured the Opera House and got to be in the background of a local TV show being filmed outside. We were in Sydney for 4 days total and also got to visit the cricket grounds and see the view to the highest tower in the city. In the Blue Mountains, we had team-building activities, learned how to break a piece of wood in half with our bare hands, and climbed down a 50 foot drop-off.
And of course, last but not least, some beach selfies with my girls
My trip to Australia was literally a dream come true. I loved the people and city so much there that I plan on eventually studying abroad there and possibly living there permanently. Over the three weeks I learned so much about myself and made lifelong friendships (as well as my nickname Chyna!) Hopefully I will be able to travel there again soon and share even more experiences with you.