Although it was a bit stressful for some in our large group, I thought Byron Bay was awesome. We did a terrible job planning and ended up having nowhere to stay on Saturday night. So we went out, had a blast, then a few hours before sunrise, some took advantage of the warm weather and clear skies and slept on the beach, some retreated to their cars.
Keeping a positive attitude was definitely necessary – some were quite upset and went back home due to the lack of planning, but we simply focused on having fun in that moment. Tip for anyone traveling/planning with many friends: have an open mind. Go with the flow. Everything always works out okay.
Sunday was spent exploring the town and enjoying the beach, as well as checking in at our hostel. We had a birthday celebration that night for our friend Poppy’s birthday; it was heavenly to have a bed and a shower in the morning! The last day our group split up: some went to a festival in Nimbin, some stayed on the beach.
Back to Varsity for the week – we hung around the pool, sang along with Davide’s guitar playing, had a crazy Uni night, relaxed at the beach, and had multiple conversations on the short amount of time we have left together.
The thing I’m most thankful for throughout this experience is all the fun-loving people I’ve met from all over the world. Even when we’re sad thinking of leaving Varsity and Australia, it’s reassuring to know that we will meet up again, whether it’s across Europe, the States, or back here where it all began.
This past weekend, 9 of us went to explore nearby Buderim Forest Waterfall – it’s so wonderful to have such beautiful, peaceful areas just 10 minutes away.
On Saturday we had an insane night down at the bars on Ocean Street. Sunday morning was spent catching up and sharing stories and laughs.
On Monday, for the Outdoor Living and Travel Skills course, we took off around 8:30 am for our overnight camping trip. There were a lot of students attending, and we had a pretty fun time. To get to our campsite, we paddled in kayaks and canoes for 3-4 hours on the Noosa River in the Great Sandy National Park. It was a sunny, calm day – perfect. Since it gets dark here around 5:30 or 6 and campfires are prohibited, we set up camp, ate, then placed our torches on the picnic tables and played card and puzzle games in the dark. The next morning, we began our 17 kilometer/10.5 mile backpacking hike back to the buses. Although exhausting, it was a great experience; we had fun chatting and playing games along the way.
Now, back to uni. This upcoming weekend Varsity is hosting the 2nd Volleyball tournament of the semester, and we are all planning on participating this time. We are really looking forward to playing, socializing, and having as much fun as we did at the previous tournament.
Unrelated to the fun and friends:
Last week, my Grandma Sandy was admitted to the hospital. The issues initially were not a big worry, but progressed quickly and became quite severe, requiring two trips to the operating room. Being across the world during this was extremely troublesome for me; most of my extended family had gathered at the hospital to be with her, and here I was, alone, in Australia. I was freaking out. All I wanted to do was be home ASAP. Updates came to me when they could, but with the time difference, poor internet access, and her changing conditions, it was very unpredictable.
Now, just a week later, she is doing better than anyone could have imagined possible. Her healing will take months, but that’s nothing. I’m just happy to see her smiling from ear to ear again.
She’s been such a huge part of my life and has had such a strong influence on me, especially regarding this trip to Australia. Really, I wouldn’t be here, learning who I am, making so many friends and memories, if it wasn’t for Grandma Sandy. She’s given me life experiences that so many people are never able to have, and I’m eternally grateful for it.
I wanted to add this to the end just to show everyone that there are worries and struggles here, it’s not 100% fun and games. Being a world away is so hard when there are tough times at home. If you are near your loved ones, take advantage of it. Show gratitude everyday for all you have.
This has been a huge lesson to me that I’ll now share with you:
- Appreciate your family, appreciate your loved ones, and appreciate all they do for you.
- Take care of yourself while you’re young. Stay healthy and really live as much as you can. Let your troubles be your motivation.
- Spend all the moments together that you can, because you never know when things could change.
- Say thank you, I love you, and never take any time for granted.
- Always trust that things will work out for the best. When you’re completely helpless, as I was, smile about the good times and know that whatever happens, happens.
I love my Grandma “to pieces,” as she always says, and I’m really looking forward to a big hug from her when I arrive back home.
To Grandma Sandy and all other family and friends reading this: I’m thinking of you every day I’m here, I appreciate your love and support, and I can’t wait for what our future has in store.