Spring Break 8° South of the Equator

Last week eight friends and I decided to take on Bali, Indonesia for our Spring Break. We step off the plane to be greeted with a wall of hot, heavy, and humid air; none of us have ever been this close to the equator before. Our driver, Bobby, packed our luggage into the van and took us to our awaiting villa of paradise for the week.

The first day we trekked through Bali a few hours North to Ubud’s jungles and an elephant oasis. Mary, the elephant I was paired with, showed me around the local village, rice patty and forest. Riding an elephant was definitely terrifying at first. They are so tall and strong; you can’t help but feel vulnerable. But after a few minutes I was comfortable and amazed with the beautiful creatures power. After feeding the elephants and playing with the babies we were lead to a beautiful three-course Balinese lunch.

Day two we had a few adrenaline packed activities planned – white water rafting and ATVing through the jungle. I felt like I was apart of a Hollywood film while gliding down the Ayung River. The valley was filled with natural waterfalls and bright green vines – the scene was picturesque and serene when we weren’t tumbling through the roaring rapids. Afterwards, we were able to blow off some steam and let loose on the ATV course through the jungle and nearby village.

The third day my roommates had an early pick-up call of 2am to hike up Mount Batur, an active volcano, for the sunrise. Unfortunately, I had to decline this exciting excursion due to my recent injury but I knew it was for the best. Instead, my friend Emma and I found a spa a few blocks away from our villa to receive some luxurious Balinese treatments. Since our money is worth so much in Bali, we were able to treat ourselves like queens in the tranquil environment. Later that day our group found the Monkey Forrest and made a few furry friends. I was surprised at how terrified I became after the larger-than-expected marsupials were jumping on and off all of us. However, I did end up making a furry little friend that hung out on my hand for a while.

Spending a few days in a low-income country was an eye-opening experience. Being in the tourist area of Bali was a very different experience than being up north in the villages filled with locals. The Balinese that lived in the tourist areas lived off the tourists’ money. We couldn’t walk down the street without every taxicab beeping at us to see if we needed a ride. Similarly, every salon, spa and restaurant had employees waiting outside to inform and hopefully drive customers inside. We walked through a few markets during some evenings and the vendors would sometimes trap you into their booth and beg you to name a good price. I would bargain for a good price, as we were told to do so, but sometimes I left feeling unsatisfied – knowing they needed the minimal amount of money I saved more than I did.

After leaving Bali, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful for the life that has been given to me. There are many less fortunate than us that we tend to ‘forget’ about. Not necessarily in the sense of money, but the opportunities and resources we have access to and often take for granted – like clean water and a higher education.

In the end, spring break was a success! The food was delicious, the people were friendly and the views were incredible. This week I’ll be headed to New Zealand for a long weekend. Thanks for reading – stay tuned for more adventures!


IMG_3682 IMG_3736 IMG_3777 IMG_3782 IMG_3808 IMG_3794 IMG_3798 IMG_3986 IMG_4010 IMG_4036 IMG_4042

Life of an American in Australia

“You got out of America just in time didn’t ya?” Speculates strangers in a cafe, referring to the recent appointment of President Donald Trump. I was amazed how blunt Aussies can be when discussing politics. In Australia, it is compulsory by law to enroll and vote in federal elections; everyone in Australia has an opinion and wants to know your opinion. At first I was taken aback- but I came to appreciate how much everyone cares about politics, as they are forced to be informed. Whereas in America, an alarming amount of citizens believe politics to be rubbish.

Politics are not all that locals care about; Australians thrive off of a good coffee or dessert. One of my favorite aspects of Australia would have to be the strong and smooth java. Every cup of coffee is specifically pressed to your order – no pots of coffee sitting on a burner all day. I love strong coffee, so a long black (a double-shot of espresso served over hot water) can always suit my taste. However, if I’m craving a something a little sweet I recently discovered the piccolo (an espresso shot topped with warm, silky cream). But, if I have a particularly strong sweet craving I can always find a yummy dessert at any cafe or restaurant on any corner. Many places here use Nutella, the nutty rich dessert spread, in an array of their desserts. A few friends and I recently went to a restaurant, Tella Balls, for a Nutella milkshake topped with a tellaball (donut ball filled with Nutella). I was in my happy place; the chocolatey excursion was well worth the food coma we experienced later in the night. We also found a new love for the scrumptious Australian cookie, Tim Tam. Tim Tams come in many different flavors, ranging from white chocolate, creamy caramel, and mint gelato; my personal favorite are the double coated Tim Tams. We recently heard Tim Tams are coming to The States in select Target retailers, so we wont have to fill our suitcases with our favorite flavors on our way home.

Another aspect of Australian culture I have come to love is the Aussie slang. For some reason, Australians like to abbreviate everything – and when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Here are a few abbreviations and slang I’ve picked up on thus far:

  • Brekkie – breakfast
  • Maccas – McDonalds
  • Straya – Australia
  • Tradie – tradesman
  • Heaps – a lot of
  • No worries! – no problem (in response to ‘thank you’)
  • Sheila – a woman

Lastly, my classes and academics are very different from my classes back in Oswego. In Australia, everything is very laid back. My roommates and I joke that we are nervous to go back to class in The States because of the work load we experience back home. Don’t get me wrong, we still have work and exams here but there is a lot less busy work. My classes are composed of weekly discussions that are to be completed online before class, a midterm and a final exam. I was shocked when I found out my midterm and final exam in my international economics class are both online exams. Sometimes I feel as though I am behind on work, even though I am not, just because I am so used to being busy with homework in the Penfield Library every day.

After being immersed in the culture here for about a month, I feel as though I am almost fully adjusted. I am now starting to think about the reverse culture shock I will feel when I come home, and let me tell you – I don’t know if I am ready for it. Next weekend my roommates and I will embark on the most exotic trip of our lifetimes; we are off to Denpasar, Bali for our Spring Break! Stay tuned and thanks for following me along my journey abroad.


unnamed-1 unnamed unnamed-4 unnamed-2 unnamed-3

Broken Abroad

After about two weeks of painfully walking around beautiful Sydney, I decided it was time to get a ct scan. And well it’s official, I fractured my heel.

I’ve been making the most out of this series of unfortunate events, however. This past weekend, CAPA rallied up the students to feed happy kangaroos and pet a furry koala at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. I’m so glad I decided to go rather than stay in my room sulking; feeding that roo was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Afterwards our group was carted over to The Blue Mountains to see the iconic Three Sisters. I wasn’t able to hike the trails but I was able to appreciate the amazing views from lookouts and the railway cars. I am grateful CAPA has been so accommodating and comforting in this overwhelming time.

I am trying to be as positive as I can be while paired up with crutches and a boot. It’s hard, especially since I’ve been to the doctors more than I’ve been to the beach. BUT the sunshine brings me comfort and the salty air clears my mind. Only three more weeks with my hardware and then I’m a free woman!

fullsizer-4 img_3181 img_3197 img_3206

G’Day Mate

After 20+ hours on a tightly squeezed airplane, I lug my suitcases in the 96 degree heat to the taxi van. With a sigh of relief I can’t help but squeal, “I made it,” to the taxi driver.

CAPA had our next few days planned out for us; between scavenger hunts, field trips and jet lag it’s safe to say I was a zombie by the third day. It was hard to find the energy to be social and hold conversations with my classmates. That was until I finally had a long nights rest and I began to feel like myself again.

On Saturday, the 21st, I had a free day since my internship, at DEC Public Relations, wasn’t scheduled to begin until Tuesday. So, a few of my roommates and I ventured to the infamous Bondi Beach. We soaked up the Aussie sun and made sure to avoid the Blue Bottle jellyfish in the cobalt water. I was a little too adventurous that day and hurt my foot while exploring the Bondi Cliffs. Although the view from the walk was worth it, it was very hard the next day feeling immobile in such a beautiful country. I trekked to the General Practitioner and had to get an X-ray to reassure me (and my mom on the other side of the globe) that there wasn’t a serious injury. Thankfully, nothing was fractured, especially since walking is our main source of transportation in Sydney. I am still healing but I hope to be fully recovered this week.

Tuesday I was introduced to the office culture in the Central Business District at DEC PR. The streets in CBD are full of beautiful men and women dressed to impress. I thoroughly enjoy commuting to work and being apart of a “team.” I have already learned so much in the two days I’ve worked at DEC and I am so excited to see what the next 12 weeks brings.

It is nice to start being placed into a routine again. I am grateful my days are so busy because I feel as though I am making the most of every day I have here. Yes, I do miss home but I know I will see everyone in just a few short weeks. Therefore I plan on seeing everything and anything I can before I head to the Sydney Airport at the end of April. I am grateful for this spectacular opportunity and I’m excited to share my experiences with you. Thanks for tuning in.fullsizer-1 fullsizer-2 fullsizer img_2768 img_2772 img_2778 img_2787 img_2802

Australia Bound

After a nice meal and a few tears, my family sent me off to the security checkpoint. My heart is pounding out of my chest. The day has finally come; I will soon be boarding my plane to Australia.

Hello everyone, I’m Lydia and I will be studying and interning through CAPA, The Global Education Network, in Sydney. I am filled with excitement and prepared for the unknown. Yes, living in a foreign country for five months may seem daunting. However, in order to grow as an individual, one must be pushed out of their comfort zone. The next post you read will be posted from the “Land Down Under.” See you soon America, you will be missed!