Sunday, September 4, 2011


School is back in full swing, complete with papers, projects, readings and a brand new job!  That's right, this chica got her very own big girl job!  Well, internship.  But a PAID internship, with a desk and a computer just for me.  I am interning with UT's Media Relations office, specifically working with the Ready for the World initiative on campus, working to make students more culturally aware before they go out to the real world.

I am pretty gosh-darn excited!  It's my first actual job, and it is right up my alley!  I mostly will be writing press releases and organizing events, you know, intern stuff, but I get to write about what I enjoy-- my first interview was with a girl who just got back from spending seven weeks in Uganda with Nourish International, and before I knew it, we had been talking for an entire hour.  I already did a press release for the university's study abroad fair and spotlights on the peer advisors working in the programs abroad office.  Everyone in the office seems really excited to have me on board-- this is going to be a great working experience!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


As of today, I have been home for six weeks, which is the longest I have stayed in one place all year.  The constant travel of this past semester was exhilarating and most likely had something to do with the planning of my next big adventure-- I am about to go to Haiti for three weeks!

My roommate at UT went on a mission trip to Port-au-Prince over spring break to work in medical clinics and left her heart there, so she invited me to go back with her for a stint this summer.  (My money is on her spending ALL of next summer there, if not staying forever.)  Anywho, the two of us are going through the Chadasha Foundation joining a couple of other girls to act as mission interns, helping to hold down the fort by working with children in orphanages, manning medical clinics and helping out mission teams that will come and go during our stay-- basically, doing what any good intern does:  some of everything, smiling all along the way.

God has really blessed us during our preparations!  All of our expenses were covered by generous donations and we are even bringing extra luggage so we can take heaps of school supplies, clothing and bedding for the kids that have nothing.  We fly out early Monday (the 18th) morning and will be there into August.

Just to make things more exciting, I was accepted as an Australian Student Ambassador, and will actually be flying from Haiti to Washington D.C. for orientation, before finally making my way back home on the 7th and moving back on campus the 11th for another semester to begin.  Whew.

My life has been and will be a whirlwind for the rest of my summer; I've taken a Spanish class in these last six weeks, along with working on my Dad's farm and being on the prowl for an internship this fall.  I signed up for my fall courses in a hostel at the Great Barrier Reef and I'll pay for tuition online from a missionary's guest house in Port-au-Prince.  I would say it's been a good year :)

Please keep us in your prayers, and if you are interested, I will be blogging about my Haitian exploits at .

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Parting is such sweet sorrow

A lot has happened since my last post-- My roommate Nikki left on a Saturday, after which I left to go home with my neighbor, Jess, who lives in Jindabyne, at the foot of the Snowy Mountains.  Now that I have been home for a week, it is a bit difficult to recollect, but there was actually snow.  Snow!  In June!  Weird.

Above are my neighbors Ella and Jess^  
There were also emu running round on the roads, just to make it a bit more Australian.

I spent the night in Jindy, and woke up to frost and Jess' dad building a nice fire while her mum made bacon and eggs for us all.  Then we split and got back to Canberra for my last day there.  We all watched some movies and did some final re-arranging before going to sleep and checking out the next morning, after which were the worst goodbyes ever.  Hugs from everyone, then a line of friends waving goodbye from the balcony as Nicole and I drove off to Sydney.  

At this point, I had my two large suitcases stuffed to the Qantas maximum weight, along with my backpack stuffed to the brim and a messenger bag for good measure that I was lugging around.  Nicole dropped me off at the train station in Cambelltown, where she lives, and I managed to get all of my belongings on the train, and the connecting train that took me to Maquarie Uni, where I would stay my last nights in Oz.  Wow, I was exhausted.

June 8 began for me at 5 a.m. when I woke up for a shower and brekky.  Charlie went to the airport with me, helping to shoulder half of the load of my luggage.  We saw the sun rise as we walked to the station to catch a train to the international airport.  My flight took off at 10:30 a.m. and I waved goodbye to Sydney and Australia.  Until next time, friend.

We started flying east and soon enough, morning became dawn and dawn sank into night.  I peeked out of my window and saw the Southern Cross one last time before it disappeared along with the Southern Hemisphere.  Toward the very end of my flight, I raised the shade to see my second sunrise of the morning, 15 or so hours after the first.  I landed in LA at 6 a.m. June 8, exhausted since I never really slept on the 12-hour plane ride.

After bumming in LAX for a while, I got on my last plane from LA to Nashville at noon.
Fun Fact:  Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival was to start on June 9, so a flight from LA to Nashville was full of interesting folks!  I looked behind me while standing in line to board the plane, and saw a somewhat familiar face wearing Havainas (Australian brand of flip-flops).  I basically KNEW, but checked when I got home-- it was Tim Minchin!  I had watched him host the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April!  I made awkward eye contact about three times.

Anyway, I landed in Nashville at 6:30 p.m., still having not slept since I woke up at 5 a.m. a bajillion hours earlier that morning.  I found my parents and fell asleep as soon at the car started moving for the hour and a half drive home.  Jet lag did terrible things to me, but I made it through and am now full-swing back in my usual summer routine of workworkwork.

*sniff*  I miss you, Australia.

Friday, June 3, 2011

On the home stretch

It's my last week in Oz, which is kinda sad.

We have been squeezing in all of the things that we have said we would do all semester, but never got around to doing-- visiting the Australian War Memorial, eating kangaroo, having a house barbecue, going to a tea room and looking for platapus in the wild, among other various things.  It's crazy how it all is about to come to an abrupt end.  Tomorrow is my last full day in Canberra, and I will turn in the keys to my apartment.  Saturday, my roommate flies home, and I will go home with one of my neighbors for a night, come back to Canberra for a night, then head to Sydney on Monday.  Wednesday morning I catch a plane, and begin the long trip back to Tennessee.

Right now, my bedroom walls are bare and my room is torn to pieces with piles of stuff everywhere-- things I'm packing for good, things I still need to use for the next week of roaming, things I'm leaving as rubbish and things I'm leaving in a friend's care to give to exchangers next semester.  It's sad to see it all get shoved back into luggage, but it will be good to be home again.  It will also be nice to pull the same trick I used in January and ditch this winter weather to dive into summer.  Sunshine will be nice, but a lot of very sad goodbyes have to happen between now and then.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Steak, Sausages and State of Origin!

With my time in Oz quickly coming to an end and my bank account being very empty, I have resorted to strictly cheap/free means of entertaining myself.  I just spent a very extended weekend in Sydney because I had no reason not to, including lots of cheap/free things, like wandering through Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.  We took a trip to Paddy's Markets in Chinatown, where I bought a cheap messenger bag and generally enjoyed walking around and looking at what the shops had to offer.

Actually, there was a lot of general wandering since that tends to be a very free thing to do, and when you're wandering with a friend, it's a great was to pass time while still enjoying being in Australia.  Not that sitting around and watching movies is not a great free thing to do, too.  There has been a LOT of that, these days.  Another way to have memorable experiences is to miss your bus back home by just a couple minutes, with the next bus being four and a half hours later, although that does not come highly recommended.  I happened to manage such a feat, but since I really have nothing going on, it wasn't tragic, but just meant I got to wander a bit more.

Anyway, I got back (late-ish) Tuesday night, then Wednesday night was State of Origin, a National Rugby League game of Superbowl magnitude to League fans.  Rugby League is mostly followed by people in Queensland and New South Wales, so State of Origin is a three-game series where the two states face off, last night begin the first match.  Then, to make it a true Australian experience, we had steaks and sausages grilling for dinner.

I'm not the biggest sports enthusiast as it is, so my friends were obviously more excited about it that I was, but I did watch a lot of the game, and appreciated it.  I think I like rugby a bit more than American football-- the action is constant, none of the start and stop nonsense that usually makes me loose interest after the first quarter.  It was a fun evening with good friends :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

School's out for summer!... winter.... whatever

I had my last Australian class on Thursday and, by some lovely twist of fate, I have no final exams!  So last week I turned in a final paper and two final projects, then spent this weekend writing one more final paper to wrap it all up, and I just turned it in!  I am FREE!!!!!!!! what?

My flight was booked for a bit after the end of finals, June 8, and my bank account is screaming for me to stop spending money, so it looks like I'll be passing away the time in Canberra.  There are plenty of things here that I never got around to doing, so it's definitely not a bad thing.

It is a bit strange--I remember the beginning of the semester when I filled out my schedule and May seemed so far away, but now I am finished with the University of Canberra.  It seems like such a short stint.  I have just a few more weeks here, and then I will be back in Tennessee for the summer.

May is here, and I feel like I should have spring fever and be itching to be outside, but instead I'm wearing sweaters and cuddling under blankets with hot tea watching movies.  The leaves are falling off the trees and shorts are never a good idea if you're walking out of the apartment... but at the same time, I'm seeing friends' pictures of frolicking in spring grass and camping, and I get confused at to what I'm supposed to be feeling.

I'm choosing to not look at my calendar any more because I don't want to know how few days I have left here, but when the time does come around, the cold is probably what will be getting me on the airplane.  And, of course, getting to see my family again.  I do love you guys.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Coming of Age in Australia

This week was my BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!  It is the last week of classes, so everyone is really feeling the pressure of impending deadlines and ferocious assessments, but my *wonderful* housemates and neighbors all took some time off to get together to celebrate my 21st :)  I'm not gonna lie, they're pretty much the best folks ever.  It's no secret that I've missed having Mexican restaurants on every corner that we default to about once a week, so they treated me by driving out about 20 minutes away to a decent Mexican joint.... OOOOOh it was good to have refried beans and enchiladas again!

This semester has really been amazing, and that has a lot to do with the fact that the people I live with are so great!  From the beginning, they have made my roommate (Nikki, another exchange student from North Carolina) and myself feel loved and like a part of the group.  There is NEVER a dull moment, and there is always someone around to help with procrastination, which is the most important thing for friends to do.

Here's the crew!  In the above picture is my housemate Alex, myself, roommate Nikki, neighbors Bri, Jess, Delfina, Jovi, housemates Amy and Edwin, neighbors Nicole and Ella, housemate Kyle and neighbor Aaron, with the picture being taken by another neighbor, Huw.  We're all in the same building and are in and out of each others' houses all the time.  Fun, fun times always abound.

Above are some of the guys, Aaron, Edwin, Huw and Alex.  They keep things interesting, that's for sure.

After a very satisfying dinner, we went back home for an Australian dessert-- Pavlova!  It's basically just meringue in cake form, which is ridiculously sugary and DELICIOUS!  The edges get crusty, which is the best part.  It was lovely.

Then, as if I do not consume altogether too much sugar as it is, I was given EVERY FLAVOR OF TIMTAMS!!!!  My friends know exactly how much of a fatty I am :)  I'm going to come back to Tennessee fat and happy and extremely depressed about having to leave all of these amazing friends.  They're the best!