My Packing List (for Egypt)

Packing is one of the hardest parts of any trip, especially as a woman who loves to have options! Here is the list I created for myself right before leaving for Egypt. I may have overpacked just a little, but at least I didn’t forget anything. We were prepared for all situations, even Blind Mike getting traveler’s diarrhea from honey dew melon on his birthday. So here’s my packing list which will hopefully help you remember everything you could possibly need!

Checked Bag
shampoo
conditioner
body wash
lotion
dry shampoo
hairties
febreeze to go
q tips
tweezer
bottle opener
nail file
extra headphones
insect repellant
medicines:
     pepto bismal
     ibuprofen/advil
     allergy relief/antihistamine
     motion sickness/dimenhydrinate
     afterbite itch relief
     nasal spray
     bacitracin ointment
stomach medicine kit from travel clinic (immodium, rehydration packs, etc.)
first aid (band aids, cotton swabs, alcohol prep pads)
razor
sun screen
aloe lotion/burn relief gel
towel
tampons
flipflops
sneakers

Purse
gum
tide to go
deodorant
ear plugs
motion sickness band
melatonin
multivitamin
portable charger
headphones

Backpack
notebook and folder with flight info and itinerary
egypt guidebook
plug adapters
go pro +charger
selfie stick + lenses
playing cards
sunglasses
mirror
face wipes
brush
wallet with cash, license, student ID card, credit cards
neck pillow
sneakers
makeup bag:
     toothbrush
     perfume/body spray
     mouthwash
     toothpaste
     floss
     make up
     hand sanitizer
phone + charger
water bottle
clothes:
2 maxi dresses
2 pairs of elephant pants
1 pair leggings
2-3 pairs of shorts
a few tshirts and tank tops to mix and match
3 short sleeved cardigans & kimonos
1 jumpsuit
2 bathing suits
a few pairs of socks
a few bras + undies

Reminder to pack all liquids or anything else that might leak into plastic bags!

Note: I originally didn’t plan to bring so much but since we were going for a month we decided to pack tons of medicine, bug spray, sunscreen, shampoo etc. which I needed to check due to liquid requirements. I kind of wish I hadn’t brought a checked bag and just brought a bigger backpack (the one I brought was 40L  but ended up ripping during the trip and I had to sew it back together… I don’t have sewing stuff on this list but luckily one of the hotels we stayed at had a little sewing kit that I kept with me; you might want to add that your list!). For the most part, the suitcase was left at hotels/hostels but when we were in between stays, it became more of a hassle than it was worth. It did come in handy when bringing back souvenirs though, so it’s really your call if you want to have to lug it around or not. I would recommend only packing travel size liquids though, even if it is a longer trip, because you can always buy that stuff once you arrive.

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One short day in Amsterdam

AMS
May 16, 2016

Currently sitting in Amsterdam Airport Shiphol. My flight to Cairo is in a little under three hours. I had a wonderful day in Amsterdam and I’ve been meeting really nice people. I met an old couple at JFK who borrowed my cellphone, then watched my bags for me when I went to the bathroom and Jamba Juice. They didn’t really speak English well but they were still very sweet. We sat in the same row but opposite sides on the flight and waved to each other as if we had known each other for years. I got the window seat and sat next to a cool German girl who was visiting New York for work. She was a geologist of some sort, and also didn’t speak much English but we got along well regardless. Delta fed us so much on the flight which was great because I unfortunately didn’t sleep much. What better way to pass the time than to eat?

My uber driver on the way to JFK also didn’t speak much English but was very kind. He was originally from Pakistan but lived in Dubai and had friends in Dubai whom he told me would show me around if I decided to visit. He also showed me pictures of his family. He definitely foreshadowed the language barriers I continued to encounter throughout the trip.

When I got to Amsterdam, hardly anyone spoke English but eventually I found a transportation worker who told me where to go.

I did, however, meet a women from Chicago while waiting for our TSA check in Amsterdam. She had gone to Egypt in 2010 and was in Amsterdam to give a tour for her job. She told me all good things about her trip to Egypt and said Abu Simbel was her favorite place.

I didn’t really meet many people walking through the city, but I kind of expected that. It was kind of nice being alone and just doing my own thing on my own time, wandering freely and not feeling responsible for anyone else. The only times I ever felt just a little lonely was when I struggled to finish smoking the joints I bought or when I wanted a picture of myself in front of the I amsterdam landmark (Of course I forgot to pack my selfie stick).

I caught the train to Amsterdam Centraal and as soon as I stepped off the train I fell in love with this quaint little village with canals all over and well-dressed city-dwellers. I went into the first coffeeshop I found and bought five pre-rolled joints because I knew I had no time (or money) to waste experimenting, but I was fascinated by the dozens of strains and magic mushies sold indiscreetly.

I smoked one J while walking around and felt on top of the world. Literally, I felt like I was floating. I chatted with one of the salesmen at a souvenir shop for a bit. He straight away knew I was American which I thought was pretty funny. He was a cool guy and I wanted to go back there but couldn’t remember where it was. #TooHighGuy.

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I walked to the Rijksmuseum and explored a bit. Coat checking my backpack was a struggle because again, #2HG. I enjoyed the Still Life exhibits because I’m fascinated by the way the lighting and the shadows can bring a piece to life. I also chilled by the I amsterdam letters for quite a bit and just relaxed, taking in my surroundings, appreciating where I was at that exact moment in time. My heart was happy to be here. I felt like I belonged.

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Next I went to Sarah’s Pancakes and holy sh*t it was an orgasm in my mouth (Thank you Katie for the recommendation)! I had strawberry banana pancakes with whipped cream and a chocolate milk. I think I found some chairs and tables and smoked joint number two. Surprisingly I found that while walking and smoking, I got some funny looks. Maybe because it still wasn’t even noon and I was already high as a kite. Maybe I was just paranoid. I mean, it’s Amsterdam, right? But regardless, I decided to be a little classier about it.

Next I walked past the Anne Frank House, but the line was really long so I didn’t bother going in. I went to Abraxas coffeeshop and smoked another joint outside. I forget if it was Abraxas or another coffeeshop before it but they wouldn’t let me smoke inside unless I was going to buy something. And I still had to finish the rest of my joints before my flight so I just kept to myself outside.

Then I walked through the Red Light District which was interesting to say the least. I saw one too many tits and decided not to stay much longer. I went back to Amsterdam Centraal but realized I still had some time to wander before I needed to head back to the airport. I decided to go back to the first coffeeshop I started at and there was a guy sitting on a bench outside so I sat next to him. I asked him if I could smoke there and he handed me a lighter, which I took as a yes. (And another language barrier perhaps.) He was really chill but again, barely spoke English. I shared my last two joints with him because he seemed like a genuine, kind person. He gave off a nice vibe, and he had shared his rolling papers with some strangers in need. We didn’t really talk much because of the whole language barrier thing but we enjoyed each other’s company. I could tell he really appreciated the joints and I appreciated having someone to share them with. I had to leave to get to get back to the airport because my paranoid self was worried I’d get lost or something, but I made it back in fairly decent time. I only wish I had longer to roam around this lovely city.

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Everything was so precious and romantic. At one point a biker stopped to let me cross the street, he smiled and said “After you, Madam.” My heart melted. The city was very quiet otherwise, which came as a surprise to me. I felt very touristy with my camera around my neck and I got a little lost at times, but that was all part of the adventure. I stumbled upon some graffiti on a wall that read “Love Me” and I admired it for probably longer than necessary but what felt like the perfect amount of time. I got to see everything I needed to see. Next time I’m here, I want to try magic mushrooms and take a canal cruise tour. Those are my only two Amsterdam bucket list things I didn’t get to check off yet. I’d also like to visit and spend more time at the museums and shopping. I bought two beanies and four lighters. I finally heard from Mike that he and Jo are in Germany. I’ll be seeing them soon. Next destination — Cairo.

Mardi-Grass Festival

It’s almost that time of year again— Mardi Grass!

I’m not talking about the popular, well-known Mardi-Gras, or Fat Tuesday, celebration. This festival, taking place in a small village known as Nimbin, is dedicated to supporting the legalization of marijuana.

Nimbin is situated in the northern part of New South Wales, and has been described by writer Austin Pick, “as if a smoky avenue of Amsterdam has been placed in the middle of the mountains behind frontier-style building facades… Nimbin is a strange place indeed.”

Known for its cannabis counterculture, as people openly sell and consume marijuana in both smokeable and edible forms on the streets, Nimbin has held the Mardi-Grass reform rally since 1993.

Nimbin Museum

Drug laws are a global scam.

Marijuana is by no means legal in New South Wales, but Nimbin seems to be an exception. It’s like this mythical fairy land where everything is rainbows and smiles. Literally.

Nimbin and surrounding areas are known as the “Rainbow Region”, home to the Australian Aboriginal Bundjalung people. The Bundjalung tribes believe the spirits of wounded warriors are present within the mountains. These spirits are believed to protect the area.

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Our life was freedom.

Nimbin is a really awesome tourist attraction in Australia, especially for people who support this alternative lifestyle. The people in Nimbin are quirky and sweet, and the shops are really funky and unique.

While I am unfortunately not in Australia for this year’s festival, taking place April 30th and May 1, I was lucky enough to attend in 2014. And it was an interesting experience to say the least.

My friends and I bought “Golden Bud” passes, but I’m not going to lie, we spent most of our weekend hot boxing a tent. Other than that we were either eating or sleeping. I even fell asleep at a skate park in the middle of the day for at least an hour. People who say cannabis is dangerous have no idea what they are talking about.

Nimbin Museum

Get out of your own way

There were Hemp Olympix with Bong Tosses and Joint Rolling Competitions, which I totally would have won, had I not been too afraid to enter due to all the cops everywhere. (I might’ve been just a little paranoid).

We also attended a comedy show, where all the comedians were too high so none of their jokes were really that funny. But we laughed because it was so not-funny that it was funny. It might’ve just been an understood We’re all just too stoned for this so let’s just laugh about it kind of funny.

But best of all were the Ganja Fairies. Beautiful, green, shimmering fairies dancing and celebrating in honour of our dearest fairy bud-mother Mary Jane.

Appropriately, at 4:20pm on the final day of the protest, activists participate in the Global Marijuana March. Nimbin aims “to break the world record for the most joints ever lit at once in the same place at the same time.”

Nimbin Museum

Better to be without logic than without feeling

However, it isn’t just about a bunch of hippies getting together and lighting up. Mardi-Grass aims to educate consumers about the medical uses of marijuana and the history of the plant.

I was also lucky enough to see The Nimbin Museum and Rainbow Cafe before they burnt down in a fire a few months later. There has been word of them rebuilding these locations, but I haven’t heard of any progress. I strongly hope they are restored, as they really contributed to the unique culture of this small town.

In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you learn to let go?

One of my fondest memories in Australia took place as I was sitting outside the Rainbow Cafe with a few friends playing chess. An older gentleman came up to us and gave us caramel tart cookies. I know you should never take food from a stranger, but I knew I was in safe hands with my mates around. And let me tell you, there was nothing like this delicious treat. Something about that sweet sugary goodness had me smiling from ear to ear all day long…

To learn more about this reform rally or the facts on this “gateway drug”, check out the official Mardi Grass website.

Note: WanderLUST Mag does not condone participating in illegal activities.
However, when in Nimbin, do as the Nimbinjee spirit people would do.

(All photos taken at The Nimbin Museum prior to the 2014 fire.)

People take drugs to feel better, for pain relief — its hardly a criminal offense. JUDGE NOT LEST… Prohibition of natures best herbs has turned this village into a prison without walls. — WE ARE NOT CRIMINALS

Pubs and Hipsters: Ireland

By Brittany Tedesco

The first time I ever left America was my Freshman year at Arcadia University.  One of the reasons Arcadia is ranked the number one school for study abroad is due to its Spring Preview experience.  Freshmen and transfer students all have the chance to apply for this week long excursion that takes place during spring break for a very small yet all-inclusive fee, as long as they take a two-credit course during the spring semester based on the country they are traveling to.  I can still distinctly remember sitting in my dorm with my group of new best friends (who I now consider family) and discussing the places we wanted to see.  We were allowed to pick our top 3 choices and write a paragraph on why we wanted to go there, and in a few weeks we would find out where we were going.  We didn’t all pick the same choices, but a few of us picked Ireland as our top choice, and lucky for Alyssa, Matt, and I— we all got it!

I remember being so nervous about the flight because I hadn’t been on a plane since I was four years old, and I had only gone to Florida.  Now I was about to travel to another country for the first time, and when we got our seats, I was nowhere near my two best friends who both got to sit next to each other.  Luckily, I was next to a few of our Professors/Advisors and as soon as we were in the air and it was safe to take our seatbelt off, Alyssa found me to make sure I was doing alright, and I was! I left my nerves on the ground and was entirely full of excitement.

Day 1.

When we arrived in Dublin, the jet lag hit us hard.  The first thing we did was get lunch as a class with our advisors at Gallagher’s Boxty House, and we could barely keep our eyes open (just our mouths) through our meal.  I had some delicious seafood chowder and a veggie enchilada, and cheesecake for dessert.  But even more importantly, I had my first legal drink.  What better way to celebrate being in Ireland than with a Murphy’s Irish Stout.

After lunch, we stopped at the ATM to take out euros and went off to explore the city of Dublin! Alyssa and I got our first tattoos together.  This was becoming a great experience of firsts.  First time out of the country, first legal beer, and first tattoo! Ireland10And it was only the first day.

We spent the rest of the day exploring and shopping, and stopped at Messers McGuire Pub to watch the Ireland vs. Scotland rugby game.  For dinner we ate cheap American food (Papa Johns) for dinner so we could spend our money on more important things like beer, obviously.  Plus it was nice to see familiar places in an unfamiliar place.

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The next morning we had breakfast and our hostel, then Alyssa and I went to a cafe with our hostel roommates.  I ordered a caramel macchiato and it was not at all what I was expecting.  It was so small! All the portion sizes seemed smaller here.  The tables and stuff too. I guess it’s made for leprechauns or something. 

We went to Trinity College later that day with our class to learn and discuss the Irish history and stereotypes more.  We learned some of the lingo like “fags” for cigarettes and “slag” for someone who is a little “loose”. Slag was probably our most used word of the week. 

That night we went to Bachelor’s, a bar next to our hostel, where we got bracelets for half off our food. Ireland3For a total of €5, I got a toasted tomato and cheese sandwich with mashed potatoes for dinner.  This ended up becoming our signature spot.  We did some souvenir shopping that night and then headed back to Bachelor’s to spend our money on the more important things I mentioned earlier.  I got a Heineken, and then discovered my new favorite drink— Bulmer’s Irish Cider.  (Was disappointed to find out they don’t sell Bulmer’s in America, but then found out it’s the same as Magner’s so all is well again.)  The bar played a Bon Jovi song and Matt and I high-fived because we’re both from Jersey just like John Bon Jovi and I guess it was just exciting to hear him in another country and all be from the same place. We were also probably just a little tipsy…

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Later that night I went to a pharmacy to ask for a pack of fags, but the cashier just gave me an irritated look and said “You mean cigarettes? We don’t sell those here.”  I left a little embarrassed and didn’t bother asking for fags anywhere else.  We decided to find some of our friends at Doyle’s Pub, but we got lost even though it ended up being a block away from our hostel.  Alyssa, Matt, Brandon (who became one of our close friends during the trip), and I started singing the Beatles and we magically found Doyle’s.  I drank a Smithwicks and a shot of Malibu.  On our journey back to the hostel we met some Irish kid who played Hurling and we all got delicious ice cream. 

Ireland5Day 3.

Woke up and had breakfast at the hostel again. Our class then went on a guided walking tour of Dublin.  We got to learn a lot and see the sights.
We had lunch at Luigi Malones, where I had a BBQ Chicken Pizza and a Toblerone cheesecake. I don’t know why I was always ordering cheesecake to be honest but it was delicious. We continued on our tour, and one of my favorite parts was the Writer’s Museum. 

Ireland30When we finished our class tour and got some free time, Matt, Alyssa, Brandon and I all took the Dart (bus) to Howth, a port village outside of Dublin, where we got some beautiful photographs of the bay. We returned to Bachelor’s for dinner again, a toasted cheese sandwich and mashed potatoes again, and the waiter made fun of our usual, saying that must be an American thing.  I had a couple of Bulmer’s and then we headed to O’Sullivans where I had one too many “Baby G” (Baby Guinness) shots.
Coffee liqueur and Ireland7Bailey’s Irish cream is dangerously good.  The bartended joked that he would cut me off unless I could walk in a straight line, so I got my shit together and nailed it.  Another Baby G shot and a Bulmer’s please. 

Day 4. Ireland16

Another hostel breakfast before my favorite day of the whole trip.  We went on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour so we could get on and off this bus pretty much whenever and wherever we wanted.  We went to St. Stephen’s Green  (so pretty), St. Pat’s Cathedral, and the Guinness Factory.
We got a free pint at the end of it but I ended u giving mine to Matt because I discovered dark beer wasn’t really my thing.  We also went to some prison but I don’t remember the name of it.  I was too hungry at this point so I went to the cafe with one of my other classmates while the rest of our group explored the jail’s museum.  I had a quiche with a surprisingly really good side salad, some coleslaw and this delicious apple and celery thing.

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After our bus tour was over I treated my friend Brandon to the leprechaun museum for his birthday.ireland1  I also wanted someone to come with me and no one besides Brandon had even the slightest interest (their loss).  Brandon and I had done a little shopping beforehand and my camera died from taking pictures of all the Euro hipsters so I bought a disposable camera to take photos at the Leprechaun Museum which ended up being really fun.  We basically got the experience of being leprechauns and learned about the history of these mythological creatures.

That night, our class saw ‘Da’ at the Gate Theatre, and we ended our night at the pubs yet again.

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Today was a long day spent getting on and off a bus with our class.  First we stopped at Bayne Valley.  Then Battle of the Boyne.  Brandon got me a hot chocolate there because it was so cold.  We stopped for lunch at a little place in Trim before going to see Trim Castle which was absolutely stunning.  Then we visited Hill of Tara which was so fun and pretty, and then we headed back to Dublin for another night at our favorite pubs O’Sullivans and Doyle’s where I continued to quench my obsession of Baby G shots and Bulmer’s.  I also added some Bahama Mama’s to the mix tonight.

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Day 6.

Our last full day in Ireland was spent on a long bus ride to Belfast.  Our class had been based on the split between Northern Ireland from the rest of Ireland, so our trip wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to the capital of Northern Ireland.  It began with a lecture at Queens College, followed by a bus tour of Belfast with some fascinating political murals and graffiti.  When we returned to Dublin, we spent our last night shopping and buying more souvenirs, and ended at our two favorite pubs one last time.  After some Bulmer’s, Baby G shots, Woo Woos, Bahama Mamas and White Russians I had somehow run out of all my money— €400 well spent!

Day 7.

We left bright and early for our flight home.  I’ll never forget that post-travel depression when I arrived back home and thought to myself how the grass was literally greener in Ireland.  It was the experience of a lifetime.  I left with crazy memories, new experiences, lifelong friendships, and the ever-so-contagious travel bug.

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The Traveling Beanie

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This picture was taken of me while hiking in New Zealand.  You see that cute purple beanie on my head? This is a story about that beanie… The story of the traveling beanie.

I had been wanting a beanie for a long time but being the broke college student that I am, I never got around to actually buying one. I had tried some on but convinced myself they all looked terrible and I just wasn’t “a beanie person” because I didn’t want to spend money. One night at my favorite pub in Australia, I found this lone, purple beanie laying on a chair and I fell in love. A stranger had obviously lost it there but no one was coming back for it. I brought it home and washed it, and the beanie became mine. It was the first beanie I ever believed looked okay on me, and I wore it almost everywhere. Until one night, I lost it at a bar in New Zealand.

I don’t remember how I lost my beloved beanie. I got too drunk one night and blacked out. I don’t even remember getting back to my hostel. But I woke up in my bed the next morning with all my clothes still on, and only one thing missing— the precious purple beanie.

It’s crazy to think that someone else may have found that beanie just like I had, and is now wearing it around, maybe even in some other country. I guess that’s my karma. I have no idea where the beanie even came from, who the owner was or where they bought it. They could’ve been from another country as well. What if someday I find my beanie back in the states? That would be way too freaky…

I ended up buying two new beanies in New Zealand because I missed my old one so much. I lost one of them, but by now I have a collection of at least seven beanies, and I’ve lost quite a few. I don’t know why I have no luck with holding on to them. I guess they’re just as wanderlust as I am. Some say they were made in China and the others says made in Korea. I have no idea where my lost, purple beanie came from before it had an owner, but if I had to guess, it was probably also made in China or Korea or somewhere unfamiliar to me. Then shipped to a store, maybe or maybe not in Australia. It somehow ended up in Australia though, into my possession, then lost in New Zealand, and now who knows where it could be. Who knows where any of my lost beanies could be. These simple little beanies came all the way from Asia and could have potentially been to even more countries than I have.

This goes to show how interconnected everything can be. I can only hope that someone else has found that purple beanie (and the others…) and they have given it a new home, or new head rather, as well as a new adventure!

Originally written on Friday, October 11, 2013.
Edited and published Tuesday, January 27, 2014.

My Australia Playlist

During my year and a half spent in Australia, I compiled a playlist of songs from just before getting on the plane there up until leaving. Some of these songs have a story behind them, some just have the right vibe, or an essence of nostalgia. Some are just plain ol’ cheesy, and some I just felt like putting on the playlist because I can. My experience in Australia has been the most amazing adventure, and these songs are all a part of my journey. I’ve been adding songs all along the way, and here is my finalised playlist.

Leaving On A Jet Plane – Slightly Stoopid
The summer before I came to Australia, I was crashing at my best friend Alyssa’s apartment in order to work and save money before traveling. Alyssa had told me to listen to the original Leaving On a Jet Plane by John Denver because she said it reminded her of me because I was leaving and she was going to miss me. The song is about going away for a while as the lyrics say, “I am leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.” I think any traveler feels this way when saying goodbye. The first lines of the song perfectly describe that anxious, lonely feeling when you’re just about to head out, and this is exactly how I felt when I had to leave Alyssa’s. “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, I’m standin’ here outside your door, I hate to wake you up to say goodbye, but the dawn is breakin’, it’s early morn, the taxi’s waitin’, he’s blowin’ his horn, already I’m so lonesome, I could die.”
When I heard the Slightly Stoopid version, I was even more hooked due to the relaxed and tropical feel of Slightly Stoopid’s interpretation, as opposed to the depth and sadness of the original. It was obviously sad that I was leaving, but exciting to be heading to a beautiful new place. I listened to this song nonstop on my way to Australia– before leaving, in the airport, on the plane, during my layover in LA, and of course, when I arrived in Australia as well. Alyssa was always there for me throughout my entire experience abroad, and she even traveled all the way to Brisbane to visit me during her spring break, so this song is really important to me because of her.

Australia – The Shins
The title is literally Australia, so I couldn’t not put this in my playlist. But there’s actually a lot more to the song than just that. The lyrics are a bit contrasting to the upbeat melody, as it seems to be about going through the motions and not enjoying life to the fullest, for example in the lines, “Faced with the dodo’s conundrum, I felt like I could just fly, but nothing happened every time I’d try.” However, the opposing happy, fast-paced melody seems to work as an inspiration to keep going and to free yourself from the boring day to day motions. As he ends the song with the line, “Watching the lantern dim, starved of oxygen/So give me your hand and let’s jump out the window,” it shows the narrator finally breaking away from the life he hasn’t been enjoying. Coming to Australia has been this change for me to break away and have fun in a place I’ve never been able to experience before. Sometimes it was hard being in a new place with new people but after I was able to break out of my shell, I realized how much better everything can be, and how sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side, but you’ll never know until you put yourself out there.

Mango Tree – Angus and Julia Stone
First off, it’s written by Australian artists, Angus and Julia Stone. I listened to it a few times with an Australian boy I had a crush on for a while. I also listened to it a lot during my first trip to North Stradbroke Island. It’s got a really nice, comforting vibe to it. Whenever I hear it, it brings back really fond memories and a longing for Australia.

Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
My first semester, I tried to go surfing for the first time during Arcadia’s free excursion to North Stradbroke Island. The whole weekend was incredible, but I’ll always remember the last day of the trip when we went surfing. I was pretty bad at it but I still gave it a few attempts. I eventually was able to get up on my knees at least, but I wasn’t able to stand on the board. Regardless, it was such a fun time. While everyone else was showing off, I was mostly just paddling around on my board and singing this song to myself, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.”
While this song will always remind me of that first attempt at surfing, it also sums up my entire experience abroad. Even if things go don’t go your way or work out as planned, just keep going and keep trying. This song always reminds me to keep my chin up and that nothing can never keep me down.

Hackensack – Fountains of Wayne
My hometown is a city known as Hackensack, New Jersey. Whenever I was feeling homesick, I would listen to this song. The line “If you ever get back to Hackensack, I’ll be here for you,” always reminded me that I had people waiting for me back home, who would still be there for me once I returned. You should always remember where you come from, but for now, I was in Australia and I didn’t want to worry about missing out on anything back home. This song would comfort me that I would return eventually. Now that I’m back, I’ve been able to reconnect with all my friends and family. It’s almost like I never left, except now I get laughed at for saying Aussie slang like “How ya goin?” and “No worries, mate.”

The City – The 1975
I’ve never lived in a big city before, and I always drove everywhere I went. I used to listen to this song a lot on the bus, and almost always while walking home from QUT over the Goodwill Bridge. On my walks home, I would always admire the view and acknowledge just how beautiful the city is. The lyrics, “If you wanna find love then you know where the city is” will always remind me of Brisbane and reflecting on those lovely walks home.

Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus
This has been one of my favourite songs in the world since I was younger. I hadn’t heard it in ages, but when I came to Australia I started hearing it all the time again, even at clubs. I looked it up and apparently the single was massively popular in Aussie. I became really good friends with another girl from Arcadia, Michelle, who also studied here my first semester. We listened to it all the time together and used to joke that we are musical soulmates because we have such similar taste in music. It might also be that we like to go for those grungy, skater type guys and bonded over that as well. Regardless, this song reminds me of the good times we had, especially at Ric’s in the Valley. We’re all just a bunch of kids figuring ourselves out in another country. “I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby like you.”

Down Under – Men At Work
Isn’t this Australia’s national anthem? I had to put it on the playlist…Nothing describes Australia better than the line, “I said ‘Do you speak-a my language?’ He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.”

American Girl – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
When I first came to Australia, I hated standing out for being American. I felt like people would just see me at the bus stop and KNOW I wasn’t Australian, which seems ridiculous now. But even if they did realize I was American, it was nothing to be ashamed of. I learned to embrace who I am and this song with it’s upbeat, rock n roll sound always gave me confidence by reminding me that it’s more than okay to be an American Girl.

Tourist – RAC, Tokyo Police Club
I listened to this song on repeat for the last year and a half. It’s all about being a tourist, finding the right cafes to go to, making small talk with people, “Are we strangers forever or are we strangers for now?” It’s about figuring out a new place. If I could pick one song to listen to my entire trip abroad, it would be this one.

Australia Street – Sticky Fingers
The lyrics describe it all. It’s written by an Australian band who played at Splendour in the Grass (which I had to miss because I was in America, and I can’t even tell you how many times I cried about having to miss this festival.) This song will always remind me of the friendships I had in Australia and the good times we all had.

The Good Good – Snoop Lion
My Australian best friend Grace is one of the most significant people in my journey. I met Grace at the end of my first semester, and by my third semester we became inseparable. She is even coming to visit me in America for Christmas! Grace showed me this song and we listened to it all the time. She is also a musician, and recorded a cover of this song dedicated to me. It has really chill, good vibes and a nice, beachy feel to it which is just perfect for Australia with all it’s breathtaking beaches. The line, “This is the good good, this is what people look all their lives to find” describes my friendship with Grace, as well as the amazing times I had in Australia and the beautiful places I was able to see.

Woodland – Paper Kites
The Paper Kites are a really cool Australian band that I got to see live at The Hi-Fi in West End with my other Arcadia friends Bri and Nat. Bri introduced the band to us, and when we went to their show with her we all got to meet them and get hugs and autographs and posters. This song has relaxing, fun, nature-y vibes making it perfect for hiking and bushwalks, or just a nice, sunny day.

A tout a l’heure – Bibio
I just love this song. I showed it off to all my friends when I first heard it. I listened to it while roaming through the QUT Botanic Gardens one night with my friend Alyssa when she came to visit and a few other friends I made in Australia. (And that night was one to remember.) I would listen to it while traveling, on flights, buses, trains or just walking. It would always cheer me up and calm me down. I like to think of it as my “spirit song.”

Bumpy Ride – The Hoosiers
With it’s upbeat and positive lyrics and melody, this song always keeps me going strong. “It’s gunna be a bumpy ride but it sure beats standing still.” Through the ups and downs of traveling, it’s still the most incredible experience and I wouldn’t change it for anything. From the beginning of my journey, there were obstacles– I was delayed in Newark and missed my connecting flight at LAX, so I was stranded in LA alone for a night. But then the next morning I got to lay by my hotel’s pool and wait until my flight to Brisbane. Later, I dropped my laptop at the airport and cracked the screen, I was freaking out but once I got to Brisbane, my computer was still working. There were many difficulties being abroad– jetlag, missing home, making and losing friends, tons of schoolwork, financial troubles– but through everything, there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. The good times made up for the hard times.

It was all part of the experience.

Originally written for my Co-Curricular Learning Certificate

Can’t Help But Brag: Study Abroad Struggles

We live in a society where everyone asks, “What’s new?” or “How are you?” but no one seems to care about the response. We reply with a dull “not much” or “good, how are you?” And then wait for another meaningless answer. We ask these questions to be polite, but how often are people genuinely interested? Especially when your response is a lot more exciting than theirs would be. We are jealous, bitter people– it’s in our human nature. But we ask these questions because it’s common courtesy, and we don’t want to seem rude (even though we are).

The worst case comes when you study abroad because you have so much to share, but to be honest– no one back in the small town of Glenside, Pennsylvania wants to hear anything about your life-changing experiences because while you spent a weekend partying in Amsterdam, your friends went to another shitty house party that probably got busted before midnight. Your constant traveling and experiences in a foreign country will never fail to make everyone sitting back home hate their boring, routine lives. And you.

Some people who study abroad understand this, while others think that everyone is fascinated by their experiences. This doesn’t mean absolutely everyone isn’t interested. I’m sure your mom and dad actually care. But the stories you really want to share are probably the ones best kept from your parents. But how many times can your friends handle listening to you go on and on about your beautiful foreign roommates before they start ignoring your messages. You can’t be mad at them for this. They want to be interested in your life. But while they’re staring at the same four walls of their Oak Summit apartment, you’re out getting a taste of all different parts of the world, and they’re going to get tired of hearing about it.

Even if someone is honestly interested in your trip and wants to hear “all about it” you would never be able to describe it all. Too much has happened. I would never be able to explain in detail all the amazing opportunities I’ve had, the people I have met, and the adventures I’ve taken without wasting hours of someone else’s time. When someone back home asks me, “How’s Australia?” I couldn’t even begin to describe the highs and lows and craziness of everything that has been happening.  Maybe I could tell them about how I spent an entire weekend on North Stradbroke Island learning how to surf and sandboard and kayak, and didn’t have to pay for a single thing (thanks Arcadia!). Or I could mention how last weekend I went to the most beautiful beach in the world, got to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and found my potential Australian husband (just kidding, maybe). I could tell them about the first time I got to hold a koala and pet a kangaroo. Or explain the difference between a nice Australian accent and a bogan one. But no matter what I tell them, it just sounds like I’m bragging. Instead, maybe I could tell them how I felt really homesick so I stayed in bed all day watching Netflix and eating overpriced Nutella out of the jar. Or that even though I’m in Australia, I still have classes to go to and essays to write and all-nighters filled with red bull WITHOUT vodka.  But how lame doeDSCN0530s that make my entire semester seem?

We can partially blame social media. Most likely everyone has already seen all your pictures on Facebook and read all your tweets and hate you enough as it is. The constant upload of beautiful pictures from weekend excursions and simply everyday life in a foreign country is enough to drive anyone crazy with jealousy. Especially when it’s somewhere they wish they could be. Or somewhere they’ve already been that they wish they could go back to. Or when it is winter in PA, and your friends are dreading leaving their heated apartments, meanwhile I’m posting pictures of the beautiful, sunny beaches around Australia.

But what else are we supposed to do? We have to share our experiences with someone. And we shouldn’t have to feel guilty about it. I guess that’s why blogging has become so popular. But while it may seem like we are having a much better time than those of you at home (and not gonna lie, we probably are), we still get that FOMO too. Sometimes there is nothing I want more than to be hungover on my best friend’s couch eating mac n cheese and watching Food Network. No matter what great experiences I have abroad, there will still always be a nostalgia for people and places (and pizza) back home. So to all the friends who haven’t had the opportunity to travel and are stuck listening to our awesome stories, try to be patient with us. We’re not bragging on purpose. And I’m sure you have cool stories to share too. Even if it is just about another drunk night at Towers. And to anyone who has studied abroad and has had this problem, try not to brag TOO much to your friends. Keep it subtle. Start a blog. Or share your experiences with us at WanderLUST. And in the midst of all the bragging, don’t forget to remind your friends back home how much you still love and miss them.