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“It’s a dangerous business… going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

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Recently, I came across this quote on a travel blog and fell in love with it, though as an English major, perhaps I should have recognized it beforehand.


One reason it’s taken me so long to write this post, I think, is because it is difficult to summarize three weeks that were so crucial to my life, as well as my mindset.  Traveling to Australia, along with the events that transpired there, was life changing. Struggling with which side of the aisle to walk on in the supermarket or getting in the opposite side of the car reflected how new everything on this journey was to me.


The moment I met up with all of the students at the airport, I knew I had come across a wonderful group of people. Equally reassuring, was hearing how all their concerns matched my own:

“I was so worried everyone would already know each other.”

“Do you think they’ll turn us away if we fucked up applying for the visa?”

“How will we survive a 28 hour flight?”

I don’t think many of us could complain about the last one though, after we reached our destination.


In an interview I did for my university’s career services blog, I suggested that studying abroad reminded me that human beings are always looking for similar things: friendship, new connections, and great experiences. In other words, we should never be afraid to ask for help.

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Some highlights from my trip include trips to the pubs, clubs, and shops in the city of Melbourne, taking surfing lessons at Bells Beach, free jet ski rides, after some of the girls and I asked two older men (sorry mom and dad, if you’re reading this!) if we could hop on their jet skis with them, partying with one of the happiest elderly men I have ever met at a Gelati shop, going on a wine tour, taking a fourteen hour tour along the breathtaking Great Ocean Road and to see the Twelve Apostles, petting kangaroos at the sanctuary, and, of course, finally meeting Adam, the penpal I had been corresponding with nearly every day, two months before my trip.



I can thank Adam for teaching me that drop bears are merely fictional and are not in fact the koalas’ evil second cousin, that Australians have no such thing as road rage “Give way mate!” when a car got in our way, was as extreme as he got, and that Australians think, or, perhaps we are, that Americans are the most gullible people on Earth.

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Thanks to Adam, aside from a tour of Melbourne with him on the first night (when I mistakenly got in on the wrong side of the car), I got to see the beautiful Sky High, where we had a picnic and watched the sunset, to see Chelsea beach, to go to Philip Island with him, where the penguins come out at night, and where we had fish and chips on the beach, an Aussie classic, and, he took a group of us on a tour around Melbourne, where we had our first parmas (a bit like a Panini).


Saying goodbye to such an incredible group of people, including the students on the trip, our “buddies,” who were Australian students at the school we studied at, and Adam, wasn’t easy, though those of us who live in the New Jersey/New York area are already planning a reunion. As for Adam, I told him I’d see him in New York.


“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – A.A. Milne


 *** I’d like to dedicate this post to my Grandpa J, who passed away while I was abroad. My aunt told me that before he passed away, he would pull out his iPad to show her the photos of me on my trip that my mom sent to him, which of course brought a smile to my face. Thanks to his help, I got to go on this trip. My grandpa was one of the biggest influences in my life and I’d like to thank him for that, as well as for always being one of my biggest supporters. He was a modern-day hero. My parents told me that while on the trip, I should say, “This is for you grandpa!” each time I did something new. We used to spend hours together naming parks when I was a little girl and my grandparents would watch me while my parents were at work; each time I saw a park in Australia, I took a photo for him. I would like to think that he got to experience my trip. I love you grandpa! ***

Has anyone else been to The Land Down Under or studied abroad in general? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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50 Responses to Australia!

  1. Really glad you enjoyed your visit to our country. Next time come north.

  2. beingcreativebc says:

    I am sorry for the loss, I am a huge Tolkien fan so when I read the quote i was hooked. I was an English major myself and Lord of the Rings fan, so I definitely knew that quote 🙂 This is a very touching piece. Your trip sounds incredible. Thank you for sharing your experience and photos.

  3. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia. Love your post and pictures!

  4. btg5885 says:

    Sounds like a journey of a lifetime. Plus, it sounds like you have some life long kindred spirits as friends.

  5. Glenn says:

    Lovely photo’s great post 🙂

  6. Wow, your posts are always so inspirational, I love them so much! 🙂 Although I am so sorry to hear about your Grandpa passing away, hopefully there are more good memories than bad. 😦

  7. My friend is flying to Australia this Thursday. I am sad that she leaves, but I am also happy for her, and wish her a very good time there. I could never go to Australia, because I am so freaking scared of spiders :S

  8. Denise [But First, Live!] says:

    Ahhh how amazing! Thnx for sharing photo : )

    And sorry to hear about your grandpa.

  9. mykombiandi says:

    I love reading about people who come to Australia and love my country. I am sorry to hear of your loss, however I feel that your grandpa would be proud of your adventure and he would of been traveling with you. Those stories of you “taking a photo for him” were inspirational. What a beautiful read and thank you for sharing it with all of us.
    I wish you many great adventures a head.

    One life, One Search.

  10. Glad you enjoyed the journey Christine, it is a lovely country even though it has a little extremes in its weather. Come back anytime! 🙂 Namaste

  11. mylifeintheair says:

    I glad you enjoyed Australia … And I am sorry for your loss.
    I think Adam may have been showing good manners ie road rage, we have it as much as you, maybe less guns 🙂
    Drop bears are our greatest invention and at least 5 New Yorkers asked me if I had a kangaroo in the back yard…lol. Us Aussies just like to have a laugh and we hope to make others laugh too. Yes it is a pricey and long trip but everyone comes back. No doubt you have made friends for life and have given them a reason to visit you too.

  12. I love this post. Loved my own brief time in Australia as a tourist. And this rings happy bells re my granddaughter who spent a semester in Great Britain and is heading for New Zealand, a place I’ve also visited and loved. In fact, I’m forwarding this to her in case she’d like to respond, or at least see it. I believe she has web friends in Australia, too.

    I also loved your sensitive presentation of memories of your grandfather.

    • Yes, I agree! And that’s awesome she’s heading to New Zealand. I’m so glad to hear your forwarded this post to her, that really means a lot 🙂 Thank you also for such kind words! I hope your granddaughter has a blast abroad.

  13. Ellen Theh says:

    Glad you enjoyed my country! Sorry for your loss. I’m presently losing my Grandpa. Heart wrenching

  14. Are you still in OZ? I am here!

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  16. dweezer19 says:

    What a terrific trip. Im sorry about your Grandpa, but am glad he was able to share so much of your trip through your photos and blog.

  17. We loved hearing that you enjoyed Oz and in particular Melbourne! It’s a beautiful city and a wonderful place to live – it gave me goosebumps reading about your time here, it’s the experience we hope all of our international friends have when they visit!
    Be sure to take Chicken Parmas to the world! 😀

  18. Mark says:

    Glad you enjoyed your trip down here to Oz and sorry to hear about your Grandpa, I lost a family member myself last year while I was over visiting in the US…

  19. David says:

    I miss Aussie fish and chips. I now live in Tx and they (Texans) are pretty gullible about Australia. I would have loved to study abroad, but I moved abroad instead!

  20. I am glad you enjoyed the Victorian summer experience.

  21. Morguie says:

    Oh I am so sorry about the loss of your beloved Grandpa. I am sure he got so much joy out receiving the updates and pictures of you while you were there. He was certainly with you in spirit, no doubt, as you described all of the things you were doing and the people you were meeting, etc. I believe it had to give him a lot of happiness to be able to help assist you in your effort to go on such a journey. And it certainly left him with a sense of some peace, obviously, too. How do I know? He was able to “go” while you were away. He wouldn’t have wanted to spoil your trip’s fresh memories and all that experience by waiting to pass until you returned. He did this while you were at the height of living your young life in this adventure. He wanted it that way. He felt fine that you would be alright after all, and that he was able to see you to this adventure and then he could then pass without worry or concern. He is with you in spirit everyday. Your sharing from afar gives you something extra special to cherish as you reflect on this experience, certainly.

    • Wow, thank you so much Morguie, your comment seriously put me in tears (and I mean that in the nicest way possible), since it was just so sweet. It really meant a lot to me reading this comment and I even sent it to my mom. I can never thank you enough for offering me some peace of mind. I am so glad I found your blog and thank you again ❤

  22. tcheight says:

    Looks like an awesome time! I have never left the country but I look forward to doing a lot of traveling soon.

  23. paranoiasnfm says:

    “This is for you grandpa!” – all said…
    You enjoyed your trip, i believe, for what i red, an amazing experience! So, you do what your grandpa loved too… 🙂

    Soon, i will do the same… and i understood/aggreed with the firts quote:

    “It’s a dangerous business… going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R. Tolkien


  24. Debbie Johansson says:

    Sorry to hear about your grandpa – you’re lucky to have had someone so special in your life. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to here in Australia and hope that you plan to come back again sometime. There’s plenty more to see. 🙂

  25. Pingback: Interview with Christine Barba from Project Light to Life | The Goal List

  26. Geri says:

    I loved reading your post, Christine! It made me to shed a tear because I had a grandmother who was great inspiration for me. 🙂

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