International Travel

Checking in from Down Under

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since my last post but I’ve been working hard on not working! The last 13 days have been some of the most exciting yet nerve wrecking days of my life and I’ve been trying hard to focus on living in the moment and enjoying myself. I’m sure most of you know by now, but I’ve been in Australia the last two weeks getting situated and settled into my new home abroad. I’ve received so many texts and messages asking where I’m at and what I’m doing so I decided I’d break it down and share some of my latest adventures with you guys before school starts.

February 16-19 Sydney
Thanks to lots of travel blogs and great recommendations from friends, my short time in Sydney was incredible! I was able to squeeze in all the main historical sights, Newtown, Bondi Beach, Manly beach, the zoo, and even got to meet one of my family members and his girlfriend for the first time! Oh, and how could I forget running into the Red Hot Chili Peppers as I was stepping onto the elevator. I absolutely adore Sydney and plan on spending much more time there before heading back to the states.

February 19-21 Melbourne
I arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday evening and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t emotional. Sydney felt like a normal vacation but once I stepped off the plane in Melbourne it finally hit me just how far I was from all my friends and how much I miss them. I spent about a day or two feeling homesick and unsure about my decision to stay in Australia but thankfully that didn’t last long. I spent the next few days shopping and exploring the city with my dad before heading out on a weekend trip to the Great Ocean Road with other exchange students.

February 22-24 Apollo Bay, Lorne, Erskine falls, Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London arch
Bright and early Friday morning I met up with 60 strangers and climbed on a bus to head out for a weekend of exploring the Great Ocean Road. I usually sit out on group trips like this because I’m worried I’ll be getting myself into some awful vacation that sounded way more appealing on paper. Contrary to my preexisting negative beliefs, this was one of the best trips I’ve ever gone on. The weekend consisted of views that a camera can’t capture, surfing fails that deserve to go viral, friends that felt like home, and memories that’ll last a life time. Thank you to REAL Australia travel agency for putting together a trip that was well organized, educational, and tons of fun.

surfing at Anglesea Beach

February 24-26 Melbourne, Phillip Island, and Lorne
When I got back to the city Sunday night I had a nice present waiting in my room to greet me, my mom! For those of you who don’t know, my mom had a stroke the day we were originally set to leave for Australia as a family. Thankfully she received treatment quickly enough that all her side effects reversed but there was still a lot of concerns because nobody could figure out what caused her stroke. After lots of doctors and tests, my dad decided he would fly down with me once we knew she was okay and then she could meet us here once she got cleared to fly. Monday I headed to campus for a short orientation and then off the Phillip Island we all went! If you’ve never heard of Phillip island and the fairy penguins I suggest you head to google right after reading this! We got to watch hundreds of tiny penguins walk from the ocean to their homes in the hills, and we all agreed we’ve never seen anything cuter than a penguin parade. Tuesday morning, we hopped in the car and headed down the Great Ocean Road to a small city named Lorne where we enjoyed the charming and quiet vibes of an off the beaten path beach town.

Phillip Island

February 27-28 Gold Coast and Brisbane
Wednesday morning I woke up incredibly too early for my taste, we got dressed, and drove to the airport to head to the Gold Coast. Our original plan was to drive to Brisbane and hold the Koala’s at Lone Pine Wednesday, explore the Gold Coast quickly, and then spend Thursday In Byron Bay before flying home. Sadly, we missed the koala holding on Wednesday, but thankfully my parents had no problem changing our plans so we stayed in the night in Brisbane instead. We explored Brisbane Wednesday and headed to Lone Pine Kola Sanctuary Thursday morning where we got to hold a koala, see lots of animals, then feed and hangout with some kangaroos and wallabies. Holding a koala was a huge check off my bucket list, even just typing about it has me smiling at my computer screen like an idiot.

My parents are going to help me finish moving into my dorm this weekend before flying to Sydney to explore for a bit until it’s time for their final departure. These past 13 days have been some of the most incredible memories I’ve ever experienced traveling and this semester has only just begun. I am so thankful for everyone that helped me get to Australia and for everyone who’s made me feel right at home since I’ve been here.

I won’t bore you all with my advice for students who are considering studying abroad on this post, but if you’re looking for someone to bombard with questions, send them my way and I’d love to help in any way possible! I plan on writing a post on that once I’ve been settled a little longer and have more experience! If you’re another student who just arrived in your new home and you’re feeling a bit lonely or scared, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! We’re all in this together and we are all feeling the same way!

I’m so excited to experience life on the other side of the world and see where it takes my mind and writing. Thank you to everyone who supports me.


  • Reply
    Wayne Luxich
    March 1, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    Another awesome read PJ… I think it’s awesome that your Dad and Mom got to experience Australia with ya… It is definitely a beautiful place… One that I hope to get a chance to visit myself someday… Good luck in your studies and be safe on all your new adventures…! G’day…!

  • Reply
    Wanda Desentz
    March 1, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    So happy for you ! Make tons of memories ! ❤️

  • Reply
    Deb Jones
    March 5, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Yea Paris!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Reply
    Tess Gardner
    March 6, 2019 at 4:37 am

    I am so happy for you, Paris. You are truly blessed. Enjoy every minute of it. Your pictures are beautiful. Take care of yourself and be safe♥️😘

  • Reply
    Cheryl Roser
    March 9, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    So happy for you…enjoy your time

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