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Studying Abroad in Lismore, Australia

Cape Byron LighthouseWe trekked the two mile trail, while battling jet lag, up to the beautiful Cape Byron Lighthouse! The views on the trail were amazing. This world famous landmark is located on the most western point of Australia! - Currumbin Wildlife SanctuaryThis wildlife sanctuary was awesome! We got to hold koalas, pet kangaroos, and see other animals that are native to Australia. - Byron Bay Surf CampWe enjoyed a three day camp where we stayed in Backpackers Inn Hostel. On Saturday, we started out the day by doing a scuba diving course in the hostel pool. We also went paddle boarding in one of the lakes outside of Byron Bay. To end the day, we took a surfing lesson and rode the world famous waves of Byron Bay. On Sunday, we went sea kayaking where we tried our hardest not to get sea sick and tip over our kayak. It was an awesome adventure! - Sydney (Day 1)On Easter weekend Nick (Scranton), Ryan (California), Vemund (Norway), and I traveled down to Sydney! We left campus Friday morning and caught the one hour flight down to the largest city in Australia. On our first day we walked around Kings Cross, an area of Sydney where our hostel was located, and over to St Mary's Cathedral. Once we felt like we walked enough, we caught a twenty minute Uber to the world famous Bondi Beach! Since it was Good Friday, the beach was packed with tourists and Australians. The water was so clear you could see your feet and all the fish swimming by you. To end the day we decided to rent bikes to get back to our Hostel. What we didn't know was that the four miles it took to get home would be full of difficult uphill battles. It was a great first day in Sydney and really set the tone for the rest of the trip! - Sydney (Day 2)We decided to get an early start to the day to make the most of our limited time in Sydney. We rented more bikes to get to our 9am tour of the Sydney Opera House. It was about a thirty minute ride that took us through the Sydney Botanical Gardens. Once we got to the Opera House, we were all blown away by the design and beauty of the massive building. One of the nice things about the early tour was that the Opera House wasn't crowded by tourists and it gave us a chance to explore the outside of it without people getting in our way. The Opera house also offered great views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The tour took us through the building and into the main stages of the Opera House. The tour guide was funny and offered interesting facts about the building's history. The main theatre was enormous and breathtaking! If I ever go back I would love to see some type of show there. After the tour we traveled into the main part of the city where we checked out some stores and explored around. We went to the Sydney Tower Eye, which is the tallest building in Sydney. We bought tickets that took us up to the top. It was incredible to see the whole city from one vantage point. After that we walked around the city, did some shopping, then caught a bus back to our hostel and got some dinner to end day two! - Sydney (Day 3)Our final day in Sydney was just as exciting as the rest! We got up early again to make it to the Sydney Royal Easter Show! This was a giant fair that was held in the Olympic Park. It had carnival rides, games, live animals, and plenty of other stuff to do! Vemund won $50 from one of the games! Although it was cool to see the Park, the fair was so crowded and it was very hot so it was difficult to stay for long. When we left we took the train across town to the ferry that carried us over to Manly Beach. It was nice to relax on a beach after nonstop walking for the past couple of days. We got a late lunch and hung out there until it started to get dark. When we were swimming we had to evacuate the water because a shark was seen in the area. Although we were bummed to get out of the water, it was cool to experience something that is so Aussie! When we took the ferry back, we rode by the illuminated Opera House. It was just as beautiful during the night! We got dinner down the street from the Opera House and then walked around it before we had to go back to the hostel to get to bed for our 7am flight the next morning. Sydney was one of the best cities I have ever been to. The people were so friendly and everything seemed very clean! I really hope I can visit again one day! - Camp BornhoffenWe went camping for our outdoor education class. The class is designed to help students feel more comfortable outdoors and teaches them important camping and navigating skills. We went on a three day trip at Camp Bornhoffen in Queensland. We learned map and compass skills, and did team building activities. We also went swimming in a river and did a bunch of high rope courses. To end the second day we did about a two hour hike up the mountain to our new campsite. This site featured a large cave that was perfect to sleep in! Even with hearing bats and bugs flying over our heads in the cave, it was a pretty good sleep! The next day we continued our hike to the summit of the mountain. At the top, there was an awesome cave system that we were allowed to explore. It got so tight at some points we had to army crawl. After taking in the incredible views at the summit, we abseiled the 25 meter cliff down to the bottom. It was pretty scary, but we all made it down. This trip was pretty fun! We got to meet and spend time with new people and practice the skills we've been learning in the class room! - The OutbackFor our week of study break we went on a tour of The Outback! This trip was put on by the University we study at so we didn't have to worry about any of the planning. We spent 5 days, 4 nights in the middle of the desert and it was an unforgettable experience. On the first day we met a local aboriginal woman, Loy, who taught us about her culture and the stories of her ancestors. She took us on a walk and told us mythological stories of how the landscape around us was created. She was very friendly and generous to share her stories with us. On the first day we also met the flies of the The Outback. These things were annoying as well as persistent. They'd swarm your face all day, although they didn't bite, they would fly in your eyes, nose, ears, anywhere they could get into. In the pictures you can see my face wrapped up which was the only way to get a little protection from them. There's also a picture of them on Loy's back. To end the day we had a delicious Kangaroo and pasta dish that we helped our tour guide Michael prepare. After sitting around the fire for a little bit, we rolled out our swags, which were basically an outer shell you'd sleep in that would keep your sleeping bag from laying in the dirt and kept you a little bit warmer. We slept under the stars every night. I saw more shooting stars the first night than I have in my entire life. Being miles away from any lights made the stars incredible! This was always my favorite part of the day. The next day we woke up from a combination of sun and flies crawling on our face. Today did a 7 km hike through the West MacDonnell Ranges. It started out pretty flat, but quickly changed to an uphill battle. The top offered tremendous views of the valley we'd soon be walking into. After hiking through the valley, we made it to a canyon. The huge cliff face around us gave us some shade that we took advantage of and rested for a little and ate some snacks. We walked up to another lookout that gave us a great view of the hike we just completed. After a quick lunch, we went swimming in a spring in the canyon that felt tremendous. The water allowed us to escape the heat and the flies that didn't let up at all through the whole day. We were all pretty tired after the hike so the rest of the day consisted of driving a couple hours on bumpy dirt roads to our campsite and hanging out there. In the middle of the night we heard the howling of dingoes. It was pretty cool to hear them and apparently at one point they were about five feet from us, but I didn't wake up for that. The next day we woke up before the sun and drove Kings Canyon where we planned to hike. Unfortunately, it was too hot so the hike was closed so we did a much shorter walk through the canyon. Since we had time to kill we did another short walk through an old cattle yard where we thought we'd see some snakes, but we left disappointed. It was late afternoon by this point so we made our way to the next campsite that had a swimming pool that we enjoyed! This campsite also had a little hill that we climbed up to enjoy The Outback sunset. We made a plan to wake up at 4am the next morning so we could do the hike that we couldn't do today, but this time we'd watch the sunrise from the top of the canyon. We all went to bed early so we'd have plenty of energy for the next day. We stayed true to our word and we were all up by 4 and we were right on schedule to reach the top for the sunrise. The first part of the hike was done in the dark, but we all had flashlights so we were able to make our way up the steepest part of the hike. We made it to the biggest rock at the top of the canyon by the time the sun started to peek over the horizon. It was amazing to see the sun rise on one side and its light drop down the canyon on the other side. We hung out here for a while taking in the view then we continued our hike. We dropped down into a gorge called the Garden of Eden. It was full of vegetation and a beautiful spring, but unfortunately we couldn't swim in this one. After enjoying the shade the gorge provided, we made it to the opposite side of where we watched the sunrise. We tested out the echo of the canyon and then walked down back to the bus. It was about a 4 hour hike. We drove back to the campsite and took a quick dip in the pool and made some lunch. Then we made about a three hour drive to Kata Tjuta which were massive rock structures that were basically mountains. The were really cool. We did a short walk through a valley between two of mountains. About 18km away was the world famous Uluru. We drove over that direction and hung out at a lookout to watch the sun set on the ginormous rock. There were some aboriginal women who I bought some paintings from. Each painting tells a different aboriginal story. Once the sun set we drove to our final campsite where we enjoyed the stars one more time. On our final day we woke up before the sun again around 5am. We did a base walk around Uluru during the sunrise. Uluru is the largest rock in the world. It's about 6 miles to walk around it and about 300 meters high. So you can imagine how large it is, but this only about 10% of it, the rest of the rock is underground. The face of it was full of caves and some parts of it was sacred so we weren't allowed to take pictures of it. One kid in our group took a picture at the sacred area and two minutes later got a bloody nose. We took our time walking around it. It was pretty amazing to experience a place with so much history and meaning. It started raining at one point and we were told that this is super unlikely and we were lucky to experience rain at Uluru. Uluru is the main attraction of The Outback so it was really cool to experience it after hearing so much about it. Once we made it back to the bus we drove to a campsite to eat some lunch then drove to the airport for our flight home! This was my favorite trip of my time abroad. It was so beautiful and rich with history. It's hard to find places that offer a combination like that as good as The Outback does. - CairnsAfter our trip to The Outback, Nick and I decided to do a quick weekend trip to Cairns which is about a two hour flight north of Lismore. Cairns is a small city, but attracts tourists because of the Great Barrier Reef. Before we got to Australia we made it a priority to go snorkel around the reef so we were excited to finally be doing it! We arrived at our hostel around dinner time so we explored into town to go get a bite to eat. Since it was a Friday night the town was pretty lively so we walked around a little bit, but went back early because we had to wake up around 6:30 to get ready for our snorkel tour! The ride out to the outer reef, which is the best part to explore, took about two hours. We were able to meet other tourists on the boat and we were provided with a complimentary lunch. Luckily it was a pretty smooth ride so I didn't feel sea sick. Before our dive we had to get fitted for our sting suits which protected you from box jellyfish stings. It was basically a full body wetsuit, but not as thick. We also got our snorkels, goggles, and flippers so we were ready to go! The reef was amazing! Although it lacked the color I was expecting, it was so intricate and cool to look at it. The color the reef lacked was made up by the colorful fish. Everywhere you'd turn in the water there was a pretty good chance you'd see a group of fish. We were able to get pretty close to them as well. It was fun to dive down and try to follow them as long as you could before you needed air. We visited two dive spots on the outer reef. We saw a lot of cool fish, but we couldn't find any Nemos :( (clownfish). We swam around for about two hours total and then we got back on the boat and went back to land. Although the reef was amazing, it was sad to see the stories about it dying being true. Our adventure and excitement didn't stop with snorkeling the reef. The next day we went bungee jumping! We went to the only place in Australia where bungee jumping is offered. It was a fifty meter jump from a platform and you had about a three second free fall until the bungee caught you. It lowered you down and dipped you in a pond that was below you and then shot you back up! It was incredible! I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it, but sometimes you can't think and just do! I think it was almost too exhilarating because the moment they unstrapped me I ran to the bathroom because I thought I was going to throw up. Nothing ever came up, but I did feel queasy for the rest of the day. For the rest of the day we walked around Cairns. There were plenty of shops to visit, including an awesome Night Market where I bought an authentic Australian designed shirt. We also stopped at a Didjeridoo store where the owner gave us a free impromptu lesson. Cairns is also home to an awesome park that had volleyball courts, swimming pools, and a bunch of other fun activities. In the park, there was a festival at night where a live band played and hundreds of people were picnicing and dancing. Cairns was an awesome trip! We were able to cross two things off my bucket list so I was pretty happy. Although it's a small town it sure had a lot to offer and we took full advantage of it! - New Zealand Road TripThey say if you go to Australia you'd be stupid not to check out New Zealand while you're down there. So we did a 10 day road trip through the two Islands. We landed in Queenstown on April 26. It was so beautiful and perfect it almost felt like a place you'd be visiting in Disney World. Its a little town that is bordered by huge Lake Wakatipu and even huger mountain ranges. It was a little cold and overcast, like a fall day in Scranton, so it felt like I was back at home kinda. The streets are full of smaller shops that are fun to explore in and are full of New Zealand's famous wool products. We also experience what is said to be the best burger in the world at Fergburger. It was pretty amazing. The only problem with our trip was we didn't have much time to stay in any one location for more than a day. Which was kind of disappointing because I could've spent a week in the Queenstown area. - Roy's PeakAfter a couple days of travel we found ourselves in Wanaka! This is a little town in the center of the south island. A person we met during our journey told us to check out Roys Peak which is right outside of the town. So there we were! We did a lot of driving the first half of the day so we were all excited to get our blood moving with this hike. It was about 3 pm and it was going to get dark in a couple hours so we just planned to get as far up the mountain as possible. The coolest thing about this hike was that the first half of it doubled as a sheep farm so we'd walk by flocks on our way up and avoided their poop on the trail. About 1200 feet up we started seeing snow and then all of the sudden the whole trail was covered in it! It was nice to see some snow after living in the Australian heat for the past couple months. It took us about two hours to reach a lookout that wasn't too far from the top. It was getting dark and cold so we decided to not go any further. The lookout was incredible. It offered great views of the town, lake, and other mountain ranges in the background. We hung out here for a little bit until the cold finally got to us and then started our trek back down! - Bali: Monkey Forest We went to Bali for about a week and the coolest place we went to was the Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. It was amazing! I was expecting to see a couple monkeys running around, but I was happy to be proven wrong. Monkeys were everywhere! Running right by your feet and climbing in the trees above you. If they found you interesting they'd jump on you and explore your backpack, hair, and jewelry. But we had to be careful, because they are excellent thieves. They stole one of my friend's earrings and were constantly trying to unzip my backpack. If they got their hands on your stuff, it was very unlikely you'd get it back. The sanctuary was also full of temples and sculptures. You could walk around for hours and not get bored. It was a great and peaceful escape from the busy streets of Bali. It was easily one of the best places I visited in my time abroad. -

Swim, Dive and Hike through North Queensland, Australia

Fitzroy Island, CairnsAn hour 1/2 ferry ride from Carins' port, you can head over to Fitzroy Island Resort. I went for a day trip and did not go to the resort, however the resort is the only building on the island, so ferries drop you off there. You can rent paddle boards and paddle over shallow reefs. There is a hiking trail to 'Nudey Beach' which is stunning. You truly feel like you are the only people in the world exploring a hidden secret. - Wet Tropics World Heritage Area 'Mossman Gorge'Near Port Douglas, an hour drive from Cairns, you can head up the coast towards the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world. The rainforest is quite vast, with multiple entrances and routes. We explored the Mossman Gorge, hiking easy-moderate trails. We saw wild pigs and a cassowary, an endangered large bird native to Northern Queensland! The photo of the water was on our drive from Cairns to Port Douglas, make sure to stop and take in the scenery on the way! - Port Douglas rainforest cottage, AribnbWe stayed in an Airbnb, 10 minutes from Port Douglas. This cottage completed our experience. The home is in the rainforest with incredible views, on the top of a mountain. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9652659 - Port DouglasHead into town early before dinner and bring a bottle of wine. You will see a park, with lots of car gathered. Enjoy the sunset! - Scuba Dive Great Barrier ReefScuba diving was my #1 goal for my trip. As a first timer, I was super excited and nervous. We booked our excursion through Compass Cruises. My cousin that I went with is certified so we couldn't go in the same group, as I needed an intro class. The instructor, Simon, was amazing. I saw unbelievable wild life, they helped you feel comfortable with the equipment and serve you lots of wine and food to end your day. This was a full day excursion. I feel it goes without stating, but if you do get sea sick, you've been warned. There were a handful of people that were sick. -

The Best of Sydney, Australia!

Sydney Bridge ClimbThe Sydney Bridge Climb is a once in a lifetime experience! I highly recommend doing this while in Sydney. I went with one of my friends and we had a great time. We learned about the history of the bridge, the harbor itself, and got to see an incredible 360 degree view of the harbor from the top of the bridge. It is definitely worth doing and something not to miss out on! You are guided through the whole experience and feel 100% safe the entire way up. It is not scary from the top, even for those afraid of heights and the climb itself is easy. - Coastal WalkThe coastal walk is probably the most beautiful scenic walk I have ever taken. You walk along the coast of Sydney starting at Coogee Beach and ending at Bondi Beach passing jaw-dropping views of the ocean and different beaches. It is about 5 kilometers which, is approximately 3 miles long and takes about 1.5 hours to do. You pass many different beaches that are all shaped differently and have unique views of the ocean. The rock formation is incredible as well. The views are definitely something you don't want to miss out on. - Manly BeachThere is so much to do at Manly Beach. I recommend taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. I went to Manly a bunch of times. I tried many different restaurants, did a coastal walk, went shopping, and sat out on the beach. There is something for everyone to do! There is a surf school where you can sign up to learn how to surf or you can buy goggles and go snorkeling and swimming. There is also a small but cute aquarium there that is worth checking out if you have time. - Taronga ZooIf you enjoy animals the Taronga zoo is a great place to go. You could spend the entire day there. They have exhibitions with all different types of animals from all over the world. My personal favorite part of the zoo was the Australian animals section. Marsupials do not exist outside of Australia and being able to finally see them up-close in person is very cool. They have animal feedings, information session, and other daily activities. There is also an incredible view of the Sydney Harbor from the zoo as well. - Watsons BayWatsons Bay is one of the hidden gems of Sydney. It is a small area but incredibly beautiful. You can walk along the bay and up to an old light house. I went on a beautiful sunny day and it was so relaxing. There is a huge open park in the middle of Watsons Bay with a kid friendly area and picnic tables and benches if you want to do some R&R. There is the federation cliff walk as well that takes you towards Bondi Beach. However, it is important to know that there are some naked beaches in Watsons Bay so do not be alarmed if you see naked people swimming...it's legal. -

G'day Mate - Sydney, Australia Adventure

O-BarAmazing bar on the 47th floor. The bar slowly rotates 360 degrees (you don't really feel the movement though). Bar has floor to ceiling glass windows allowing for the most incredible views of Sydney. Expensive cocktails but definitely an experience to remember! - Mr. WongBest dumpling & dim sum date night in Sydney! We made a last minute reservation so we went to an early dinner. Great food and atmosphere. - The Rocks MarketThe Rock Foodie Market was awesome! We spent a few hours here tasting street food and sitting outside in the sun. It's a quick walk from the inner Harbor. Food Markets are always a good idea! - Taronga ZooDay at the Taronga Zoo was nothing less then entertaining! I took the ferry across the Sydney Harbor which had amazing views of the Opera House and skyline. The Zoo also had amazing views overlooking all of Sydney from above. The Giraffe's were the highlight of the Zoo - great day time activity! - WestfieldBEST shopping in Sydney! This mall has everything from Adidas and Zara to Miu Miu and Chanel. We spent a few hours shopping and worked up an appetite! We finished the day here at Ippudo (amazing Ramen) located on the 5th floor. The food court here was one of the best ones that I have seen. So many options from a quick bite to a formal restaurant. - IppudoIppudo Ramen is always a favorite of mine - the Sydney location was one of the best though! Located in the Westfield mall (on level 5). I definitely recommend grabbing a quick bite after some shopping at the mall. The pork buns were really good! - Bondi BeachSpent the day at Bondi Beach and went surfing. Rented boards at a local surf shop right off of the beach. We went in September so the water was a bit chilly - rented wetsuits as well. Clean and beautiful beach close to downtown Sydney - IceburgsIceburgs is awesome! We went here after spending the day surfing at Bondi Beach. Views are amazing because the restaurant is on a cliff overlooking the beach. Trendy spot in Bondi - dress code varies from super casual (I went in a coverup and swimsuit) to trendy and upscale. -