Australia feels like home

A beach in Maroochydore, QLD, photo credit: Megan Pendagast

Living on the Sunshine Coast is like living in a postcard.  I kick off a normal day by going on a walk, just so I can take in everything around me.  This includes but is not limited to kangaroos hopping around on campus, swooping magpies and birds of paradise.  Going to classes, studying and visiting the library all feels so strange when I’m doing it in a glamorous foreign country that I’ve been longing to go to for ages.

Noosa Beach in the direction of Mount Coolum, photo credit: Megan Pendagast

Spring break was a few weeks ago, and a big question to be answered was this: where do you go for vacation when you live somewhere as beautiful as Australia?

Sydney Opera House, photo credit: Megan Pendagast

To be fair Australia is a massive continent, you can drive 20 hours and still be in the same state, so there is plenty of room for exploration.  My roommate and I decided to venture first to New Zealand to visit Auckland in the northern island for four days and then Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.

Gorgeous view of the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House, photo credit: Megan Pendagast

To say Auckland is beautiful is like saying the sky is blue.  Even the city areas are breathtaking and the tattooed street performers seem fancier, somehow.  I didn’t even mind being made fun of for my accent, though after months in Queensland I barely even noticed it.

The view into the city in Auckland with the famous Sky Tower visible, photo credit: Megan Pendagast

When we went on a ferry to visit a small island called Waiheke and it was like stepping into Middle Earth.  The water is crystalline, the land is gorgeous and the forests are dense and lush.  The people were overwhelmingly friendly, despite the fact that they have to deal with inquisitive, awestruck tourists year round.  They were talking about reforestation, which was something I had never even heard about up until that point!

Mooloolaba Beach in QLD, Australia, photo credit: Megan Pendagast

Being in a place so picturesque is almost unnerving and it elevated me to a temporary high that even rough living conditions in my hostel couldn’t damper.  I climbed the Harbor Bridge, explored  underground military tunnels, was attacked by magpies and had a phenomenal time doing all of it.

Me and my roommate Blanca in Auckland, NZ at an old military base, photo credit: Megan Pendagast

Sydney was fantastic as well, though the weather wasn’t quite as cooperative and we were unhappily situated in the red light district.  I kept wondering how so many strip clubs and adult stores could possibly stay in business and turn a profit when they are all shoehorned into the same location? It seems crazy to me, though I guess there’s quite a large market for that type of adult entertainment.

Entrance to the Botanical Gardens, photo credit: Megan Pendagast

As soon as we were a safe distance away from the strippers and the prostitutes, Sydney had a lot to offer.  It felt so strange to be standing on the steps of the very opera house that I’ve seen countless times in movies and other media.  We went on one of those giant tour buses that cart tourists, like us, around to the different sights.  The Botanical Gardens were lovely, though I’m of the opinion that you see one field of flowers and fronds you’ve seen them all.  Bondi Beach is just what it’s like on TV and I felt appropriately inadequate when facing scores of toned and tanned surfers.

Blanca and I in front of a museum in Sydney, Australia, photo credit: Megan Pendagast

It was a phenomenal experience; we even saw two Australian reality television stars from ‘Renovators’ when we were on our way to the airport.  However, after all of that it just felt so good to get home.  That’s the funny thing, after years of living in Connecticut that’s my official ‘home,’ but Rider feels like that too…and now The University of the Sunshine Coast fills that void as well.  Vacation is great, but being where you feel you belong is even better.  How many homes can a person have, anyway? I don’t think there’s such a thing as too many.

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