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Time to Return Home.

Time December 2nd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | 1 Comment by

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Melbourne’s Most Memorable Part 2: Philip Island and Little Penguins.

Time November 14th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by


You haven’t seen the world until you have watched two tiny penguins run and fall belly first over the same patch of sea grass within 30 seconds of each other.

Allison and I, thanks to a fabulous Australian family friend of Allison, were able to visit Phillip Island and enjoy an event called the march of the penguins.


Philip Island is located just outside of the city of Melbourne and is home to thousands of ferry penguins. These penguins leave their burrows for days at a time to feed and bring back food for their families. The march of the penguins consists of watching packs of these little animals waddle up onto shore, make sure it’s safe, and then waddle as fast as they can towards their burrows. With their nerves on high, necks stretched, arms flailing in takeoff position, and knees fused together, you haven’t lived until you have witnessed this phenomenon.

On Sunday afternoon Allison and I boarded a small bus decorated with photos of tiny penguins and the words “The Little Penguin Company” scrawled brightly across the side. After a short and rainy drive, we arrived at the western tip of the island where we were able to explore the Nobbies at Point Grant. The Nobbies are made up of boardwalks along the coast that overlook the ocean and rocks below, and some of these boardwalks are also homes for the ferry penguins.


I hopped off the bus at the Nobbies and was immediately blown backward by the winds that followed the rain of that day. For protection, I wrapped my jacket around my camera and I and trudged towards the boardwalk. The sun began to set as we walked along the coast and the waves, with the help of the wind, crashed and swirled white froth along the hillside. The sun set behind a small but tall island and illuminated its green shrubs on all sides. The island looked as if it was wearing a halo and the waters below it glistened and danced around its edges trying to touch the aura of sunlight.


As we got back on the bus, the golden Nobbies disappeared behind us along with the sun, and we headed towards the Phillip Island Nature Park to watch the penguin parade. Allison and I were lucky enough to go on a guided ranger tour which allowed us to be up close and personal with the penguins as well as receive headsets through which our guide to explained the process of the penguins return to home in depth.


It did not take long for the Penguins to begin coming up onto the beach. We sat and watched as masses of twenty to forty Penguins sat in the water, waited for someone brave to venture out, and then all tumble and run as fast as their penguin feet could take them towards the sea grass. There were multiple times where one penguin would be left behind; it would then either run as fast as it could towards the pack or completely turn tail and flop back into the water. This part of their day is by far the most dangerous and stressful for the Penguins as they are completely exposed; so when they reach the safety of the high grass and rocks of the beach they take a well-earned breather. But the trip is not over yet, they then continue along the “penguin highway” which is a long strip of dirt until they find their burrow. We walked along this path, without disturbing the penguins, and watched them waddle and stumble towards their homes. Allison and I stood by a patch of sea grass and watched small penguin run so fast through it that he tripped and fell on his stomach letting out a noise of surprise as if the grass had miraculously appeared in front of him. As he got up and waddle off, we watched as one of his pals followed his direct path and flopped over becoming just as frustrated with the grass as the first one.


Seeing the Penguin Parade and walking the boardwalks of The Nobbies is a trip you need to take if you are visiting Melbourne. Getting there takes an hour and a half, and you stay till about 10 pm, but it is well worth the time!


*Photos of me taken by Allison Hefter
*Photo of penguin is from:

7 Tips: The Melbourne Cup for Beginners.

Time November 14th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

A list of things you need to know if you are going to the Melbourne Cup for the first time.

1. Everyone looks like they just walked off the runway. Okay not everyone, but pretty close! If you think you are overdressed, then you are probably underdressed. Hello flowy and glittery.


2. Headwear is EVERYTHING. I wore a headband made out of gold leaves, and my friend wore a large tan and black hat, so if you have a hat or headband stored in your closet, brush off that dust and bring it to the racecourse.


3. Place a bet regardless of if you know what you are doing or not! I cannot stress this enough, even if it’s only five dollars. I mean, where is the fun in watching a race if you don’t have anything to win! (Or lose in my case whoops)


4. Those stiletto heels you are planning on wearing? good luck. You have two options; one ends with you barefoot, and the other relies on the champagne to take care of any pain until the next day when you will REALLY feel it.


5. Meet people! Some people are focused on the race while others will be happy to tell you about the money they either just won or loss. A shout-out to the guys who gave us a bottle of champagne when they won over $1,000!

6. Go to the grass. The stands are fine, but the grass is where all the action happens. Not only are you closer to the track itself but you can feel the crowd’s anticipation as the horses pass the finish line, and the “OOOOOH”’s grow louder. At one point I didn’t even bet on any of the horses racing, I was just cheering because the excitement was contagious.


7. When your host parent for the weekend tells you what number horses to bet on, don’t just bet on them for him and then pretend you have any idea on what you are doing and bet on a random horse. Bet on the horse he’s betting on because then you will win $250 instead of losing $20, #bitter.

Off to the Races!!


Melbourne’s Most Memorable Part 1

Time November 8th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by


My Melbourne blog post is being split into two parts because it was so fabulous it can’t be explained with just one.

Melbourne is known for the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park and the Great Ocean Road along it’s coast, both of which I visited this past weekend. After arriving at the airport my friend Allison and I jumped in her family friend’s car and took a five-hour journey to the two beautiful sights. We drove through the countryside of Melbourne and it’s the rolling grassy hills scattered with cows and sheep made me automatically think of the Windows screensaver; you know the one. As we neared the coastline, I was astonished at the speed in which the scenery changed. The picturesque screensaver of the farmlands merged into small bushes and shrubs, which then almost immediately opened up to a jagged mountainside. I had my face pressed against the window not wanting to miss a thing and listened excitedly to the sounds of the churning ocean echoing in the caverns of the cliff side below. Read More »


The Great Barrier Reef – One Down Six To Go.

Time November 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by


One down six more to go because I have officially visited one of the seven wonders of the world, The Great Barrier Reef. Although there has been a lot of talk about the death of this beautiful landmark, I am here to report that it is thriving and teeming with life. I visited the reef once when I was much younger, however, due to my pure hatred for the cold, I decided I would sit on the boat and miss out on everything, what a buzzkill. Thankfully this past weekend I had a chance to not only experience snorkeling in the GBR but also experience scuba diving for the first time, and let me tell you, once you go scuba you never go back.

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Top Five Mouthwatering Restaurants In South Bank.

Time October 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

We all know that the only reason students go abroad is to eat delicious food and take pictures of it for Instagram. So, to make sure you guys knew where to get the good stuff in Brisbane I decided to turn into a restaurant critic for a day. From date night to experiencing a new world or just enjoying some comfort food, here are the five places you need to eat at if you live in South Bank, Brisbane:

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The Whitsunday’s Must Visit List

Time October 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by


This past week was the University of Queensland’s mid-semester break and boy did we have a fantastic time. The Whitsunday Islands is a place I have been dreaming about visiting since arriving in Australia. These are islands based on the outskirts of the Great Barrier Reef and are just a short hour flight from Brisbane, and a quick boat ride out to whichever island your heart desires to go to. We ended up going on a day trip with Reefstar Cruises which took us to three beautiful spots in the Whitsundays: Northern Whitehaven Beach, DayDream Island, and Bali Hai Island.

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My New Home As Told By, Cookies, Costal Walks, and Classes.

Time September 6th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by


Allison and I are still thriving abroad, although I have not posted in a while it is not because we are somewhere in a ditch but instead having a fabulous time traveling around to Noosa and the Gold Coast. We did however almost burn down our kitchen trying to cook cookies in the microwave. RIP to the bowl we used since we threw it, charred and smoking, out the window in our haste to make sure the fire alarm didn’t go off. Could you imagine us explaining to the fire department that we had to use the microwave because it cooks cookies faster, “Sorry sir we were just so hungry!” I know what you are thinking: adulthood suits us well. We are aware.

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Two Days in Paradise: Moreton Island

Time August 23rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

Video of my trip:

My alarm went off at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning, I know, it sounds terrible. Except we were heading out to Moreton Island for two days of activities and sunshine. I hopped out of bed, grabbed my bag, and headed to the bus which would take me to the ferry. We traveled with a group called Sunset Safaris who primarily took care of everything for us which allowed us to sit back and relax. As the boat arrived at Moreton Island, it seemed as though I had entered a tropical oasis. From the deck, we could see four wheel drives coasting along the sandy dunes and kayaks exploring the Tangalooma Wrecks. The island stretched out ahead of us and was made up of various hills and cliff sides, some covered in sand and others in trees. The ferry slowly pulled up onto the sandy beach and we unloaded. In front of us were turquoise waters and a friendly looking orange van with the logo “Sunset Safaris” printed on the side. We boarded the truck, backpacks and all, and headed off to our first adventure: Sandboarding. Read More »


Not So Automatic Doors and Turkeys: Daily life in Brisbane

Time August 8th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

The past couple of weeks has been a whirlwind of learning about Brisbane and also myself. While walking the streets of South Bank or even running to a class I have found a multitude of differences between daily life back in America and everyday life here. So, here are the top six differences I have encountered while living in Brisbane.

1. Some sayings or greetings are confusing. “How are you going” and “what are you after” mean “how are you today” and “what would you like” not how are you getting to a particular place nor what are your goals in life. The confusion is real when you are standing in line to order food, and they ask “what are you after?” and you stare at them contemplating whether to disregard the question and just order fries or whether they want to know what you are after in life…”um, like my life goals?” Note to everyone everywhere, just order the fries.

2. Some doors are NOT automatic. Picture Allison and I standing in front of our apartment buildings door, waiting for it to open, until after about two minuets of walking up to it and then walking away, as well as some arm waving, someone reminds us we have to press a green button for it to open. It looks automatic. It works like an automatic door. We are lazy. The door should just open. Even worse we tried to get off the train and held up an entire car waiting for the doors to open by themselves (like normal trains do) until someone politely told us to press a button to open it. I mean try playing that off, “no I know I was just looking out the window, building the suspense…” Read More »


Some things Have to Go Wrong Before They Can Go Right…Right?

Time July 19th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

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Three Travel Books, Two Maps of Brisbane, One Girl.

Time June 27th, 2016 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Are you nervous?

Not really.

That’s what I have been telling myself, or something along the lines of “you’ll be all right what’s the worst that can happen?” and then I pause and think about getting mauled by every living thing in Australia. I honestly just torture myself by searching “10 deadliest things in Australia” and it comes up with stuff like the box jellyfish and I’m sitting there like, well I used to love swimming in the ocean. I won’t get attacked in a cool way though it’ll be a headline like “Idiot abroad student hospitalized trying to pet an [insert deadly animal that probably looks cute but can kill you with a swift kick here]”.

Regardless of my obsession with the terrifying wildlife, I don’t think I am that nervous because it hasn’t set in that I am leaving in two weeks. Instead, I have to remind myself sometimes – note to self: stop pretending like you have more time than you do and maybe attempt to pack, or at least make a list of things to pack, or maybe just think about making a list of things to pack. But, no I am not that nervous I mean, so far I have asked my study abroad mentor so many simple questions she’s probably nervous for me. Don’t even get me started on my parents; those two are worried enough for ALL of the IFSA-Butler students studying abroad this year. For example, the other day my dad handed me an Amazon package and said: “this is to help you in Brisbane!” Knowing my dad, I wasn’t expecting some cool device, but as I had suspected, I pulled out not one, but three tourist books and two maps of Brisbane. These are not just simple pocket maps. These are huge foldable maps that covered half of my dining table when I opened one up. Picture this: 5’3″ girl carrying a map that is wider than her arm span and long enough to trip on in the middle of the city, flipping it this way and that thinking which side is up? And where even am I standing on this thing? And why do all the streets just look like my jewelry when it gets tangled in a knot, and there’s so much going on its impossible to tell when one chain begins and when it ends? It stresses me out just thinking about it. BUT That’s not even the best part. Beaming, and clearly seeing no problems in his plan, he takes one of the maps and says, “Okay, so I’ll have one of these here, and you take the other one to school, and you can call me if you get lost, and I’ll direct you.” As if dropping a pin on my iPhone is too hard, and instead it’s easier to give me directions for the middle of Brisbane from my kitchen in Maine. I’m not lying when I say the nerves are at an all-time high for him and my mom but as for me, it won’t hit till that plane touches down in Sydney.

Until then I live in the lovely state of Maine spending my time thinking about packing, looking up deadly Aussie animals, and practicing an Australian accent in the mirror. I have also been looking through old photos and such because, hey fun fact, I used to live in New South Whales Australia when I was a child and ever since we left I have wanted to return. I am looking forward to seeing a new part of Australia as well as actually experiencing it as I was only 5 when we flew back to America for good. So, I am taking this abroad experience as a return to home, using the word home tentatively, and as the ability to create new and better memories of a place I have wondered about since I left. So, instead of nerves, I feel wonder, excitement, and desire. I wonder what it will be like to live in an apartment in the city and commute to school. I wonder if I will find my classes on the first day, and heck if I will even pass my classes (questionable). I am excited to meet new people and eat vegemite, although I hated it as a child, and finally, I desire to get on that twenty-two-hour flight and start my journey.