Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Up, up, and away

I am pretty sure I start out every single blog post with the same thing. I am awful at keeping this updated. Luckily, I wrote in my journal for myself and will see most of you when I am home. Therefore, what I have left out of this blog can be discussed when I am home. Which is in 5 days! Holy cow. 5 days. I went from 5 months to 5 days. How in the world does that happen?

I remember when I first brought up the idea of studying abroad to my mom. She looked at me with those eyes (which if you know my mother, you know exactly what I am talking about). The eyes that that really say 'What in the hell am I going to do with you?' Then again, when I brought up the idea of studying abroad I really wanted to go to South Africa. It's easy to say that she vetoed that idea as quickly as I brought it up. When my mother finally agreed to let me at least apply, I didn't think I would ever actually make it in. I heard the odds against me and I thought to myself.. If I don't travel to Australia.. I will buy myself a motorcycle. So that way I wouldn't be as upset when I got that email that says 'no'. October arrived and I was sitting on my bed during homecoming week. I heard my phone buzz and to be honest I had just woken up and didn't feel like texting anyone back. So I just let it sit there. An hour goes by and I finally pick up my phone and I see the email subject 'Deakin Study Abroad' and when I opened it I read 'Congratulations'. I was so excited I plastered the news on every social media sight in existence. I'm surprised I didn't open new social media accounts just so I could post the news on there.

Those next few months until February were pure Agony. All of my friends had to hate me because Australia was all that I talked about.

February finally arrived and my journey started. I tried my best to keep everyone updated during my trip and I am sure everyone has realized that my procrastination skills are 10/10, A+. So here I am, 5th blogpost when I was supposed to have approximately 20. Hey, this is just preparing me for future travels and blogs. It'll get better.

I think writing about this type of experience is exceptionally hard. I couldn't put into words how I was feeling or how I was changing. It is one of those things that words don't do justice for. I could say I was happy, but there were moments that I was so beyond happy. There isn't even a word invented yet for how high on life I was at some moments. Then there were other times that all I really wanted was to have dinner with my family, drink with my friends, or drive in my car with the windows down. Being so far away for such a long time really makes you realize how great you have things. Knowing I had a car, family, friends, home, animals, and a life to go back to really made me appreciate my place in Indiana. It also made me realize that I don't need all those things to be happy. They help, yes but I can be happy all on my own. I have been happy all on my own here.

I came here by myself but I did not leave Australia by myself. I left with so many more people to call my people. Even the random people on the street made an impression on me. I met people that I will never forget. I met my Australian family and no matter where we are all located in the world, they will always be the family I had in Australia.

If I knew how to vocalize everything I have felt, done, and been through during these 5 months, I would write it all out for you all. Only I have been staring at this screen for close to an hour and I can't come up with anything more.

The last thing I will say about my experience in Australia as a whole is it was worth it. I truly believe that every single person should have to travel outside of their country for an extended amount of time. It teaches you so much about who you are, who you want to be, and how you handle your surroundings. It taught me how to be alone but not lonely. It changed me in ways that I cant explain. I know what I can handle and what I can't. It leaves a mark that will never go away.

I am currently in a home in New Zealand, making my journey back to the states. I am spending most of my time in Auckland. I will be swimming with sharks, buggy jumping, visiting museums, and more. I am gearing up for my long flight back home. I am getting myself ready for the gallon of queso from La Ha I will consume.

As leaving Australia is sad, I am more than ready to be home. My forever home.

I also understand that within 5 minutes of my plane landing I will want to find a new destination to conquer.

This is the last blog post I will be posting because by the time I have more information to report... I WILL BE HOME.


Look forward to seeing you all.
xxxx
McKenzie

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Time Flies

I'm sure it is insanely clear that I am awful at keeping up with my blog. 
For that I apologize, sometimes I sit down to write and so many things come to mind that I can never figure out where to start. 

Let's start with my family. 
I was given the privilege to show my family around my home. 
It was something hard to comprehend, showing people from home what makes this place my home now. 
Those two weeks when I had my mom, momma friend, and my new adopted mom (Deena), it really showed me how much I had changed. 
It immediately hit me that I had been on my absolute own for 2.5 months and I found it hard to be under supervision again. 
I had gotten used to depending on no one but myself in this whole new world I was welcomed into. 
It also showed me that I am going to be one happy girl to be back home with the people I love and care about after these last two months are over. 
When my family was here we went to Sydney, The Great Ocean Road, The Grampians, and of course, explored Melbourne. 
We may have enjoyed a few drinks together on some nights, other days we ate seafood on boats and explored billion dollar homes. 
It was an unreal experience and I am more than lucky to have had them here for the short while they were able to come. 
Something tells me they had a good trip, too ;)

Other than having family, I have been settling in my home and spending time with friends. I've been doing some last minute exploring and using the last of my time as well as I can. 
It's odd that my time here is almost done, and I feel like I have barely scraped the surface of what Australia has to offer. From oceans to mountains, from forests to desert. You want it? Australia has it. 
I wasn't challenged culturally as much as I would have liked, but I am being challenged in other ways. Learning to write lists and actually get them done (Neysa will be proud one day, just not yet), I am learning to be on my own and make decisions that make me happy, and most importantly, I have been challenged in deciding what person I will be when I get back. 
I have heard that it is a difficult transition, getting back to what you left. 
Of course it's scary, knowing that life didn't stop when I left. People have just been living a life in which I am not a part of. 
What I do know is, I have amazing family and friends that I look forward to being around again. 
I know that the travel bug will shortly kick back in, and I will be planning another adventurous time again, COUGH COUGH MOMMAFRIEND :)))
I know that it will be difficult because I know I will not be the same person, but I am hoping I will be a better person. 
I also hope that I won't talk so much about this trip that everyone wants to throw my head into a toilet and flush it. Which I know will be a hard one. 

Australia has done me a world of good. The views are breathtaking, the memories are happiness, and this trip has been absolutely life altering. 
I thought I would come to Australia and drink a bit, meet an Aussie man ( Cause hey, have you heard their accent???), and just have a good ol' college time. 
Instead I have become more of a woman than I thought could happen. 
And to think that I still have 2 months left, wow!

Currently, my friend matt is sleeping on the floor of my bedroom because he wanted to experience Australia as well. 
It had been a bit gloomy, so we've enjoyed some relaxing, talking (politics, of course), and just enjoying the people. He has roamed a mountain, the city, and the casino :p
I think we both are having a wonderful time. 
Then, once Matt leaves, Emily will be joining me in this wonderful country, EEEP. 
Then a few short weeks I will be traveling to New Zealand, so I can tie a rope to my legs and jump off a cliff. Hopefully. 

2 more months, so much to do. 
All I know is that I am beyond lucky to have the support system I do. 
The family I do. 
And the friends I do. 
I am blessed. 

Though, what comes along with independence is being alone during the hard times as well. 
I received the news that an old friend of mine passed away. 
I know that she is now happy and healthy, breathing easy. 
If any of you happen to know Rosie Albright, keep her family and friends in your prayers/thoughts/whatever you may believe in. 
She is an inspiration to all. 
Hope you are singing loud and beautifully, Rosie. 
Hope you are spray painting the walls of Heaven, Mel. 

With that, See you all very soon. 
xxxxx
McKenzie

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

WE ARE FAMILY

Don't worry, I've realized I am not the best at keeping this blog updated. I somehow get distracted between the new city, new friends, and sleep to make sure I make it out alive. 

Well my american friends and family, hold onto your seats.. your homegirl McKenzie has done quite a bit since you've been updated. 
I made a trip to the Botanical Gardens and my goodness, you have never seen such a beautiful place. I joking told my friend that I want to get married there (You know, if I wanted to get married) 

The Botanical gardens then lead straight into the Shrine of Remembrance. That is one of the largest war memorials in Australia. It honors any person who has served for Australia but especially for WW1.  It overlooks the city and brings such a good feeling. You can never feel sad when overlooking the views Melbourne has to offer. 


Although I have seen some beautiful sights, I am pained to say that I have yet to see a Kangaroo but will hopefully be doing that this upcoming week. 

I have realized it's hard writing a blog about things you're doing when you don't think about doing them. I just live here in Australia and don't even realize I am a tourist anymore. I am living normal life. I sleep in till noon (I know my mom will be more than happy to read that). I go to classes. Drink some beer or wine (It is legal, if any police officer is reading this. IT IS LEGAL FOR ME). I cook myself really crappy microwavable meals because I realized I hate cooking. Another reason I shouldn't get married. Everyone always asks me how things are going and what I've all done but I'm just living. I think a lot of people become surprised when I tell them that I didn't go climb a mountain that day or I haven't seen every single thing already. I haven't. There are days that I spend the day cleaning in my house or just hanging out. It's really kicked in that I am home here and not every day can be spent doing something crazy. I have a pretty even balance though. I am half tourist/half home.
How odd right? I am home. 

Although this is home, it definitely wasn't the best thing ever to spend easter away from my family. Australia FREAKS OUT over Easter. They shut down E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G on Good Friday. They also don't go to school or work that Friday or Monday. They don't play around. I spent the weekend away from my American family and friends but I spent it with my family here. On Friday I had a cook out with some of my international ladies. We ate meat (whoops), and drank some goon. We all talked about random things and how much we missed home but it was a great night. 
Then on Sunday, I gathered with 16 other international students from Germany, Italy, Canada, and The States, of course. We all pitched in food and ate our hearts out. It was a pretty perfect way to spend Easter at my home away from home. 

I think anyone would be absolutely crazy not to miss home when being gone for this long. I do miss home. So much. I miss my family and friends. I miss cuddling with Teddy (and being clawed by him). I miss driving Kitty while momma #2 is next to me feeding me my Taco Bell and dancing to loud music with me. I miss family meals with Bio mom, Ray and me. I miss taking pictures of my mom driving that make her nose look the size of Australia itself. I still remember the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach when I had to leave her at the airport. I was so adamant that I wasn't going to cry but I didn't stop crying for like 2 hours. I hate that I missed Jordan, Erin, Chloe, and Ryans birthday. LIKE REALLY. YOU ALL WERE BORN IN THE WRONG MONTHS.  I miss going out to Butters Bar and spending my friday with the group. I miss seeing baby Lisa, Lil' Jonny, big Jon, and Ashleigh (and taking snapchat selfies with all of them). I miss being yelled at my Neysa for stealing her clothes- Okay, not really. I don't miss the yelling part but I miss her. I'm sad that I'm missing wedding planning. 
As much as I miss home a hell of a lot, I am glad I am here. I am glad that I am missing you all because nothing really makes you appreciate things until you don't have them. I am especially talking about fountain drinks and complimentary chips and dip ;)
I am doing amazing things here and have learned so much about myself and the world. Its crazy that it's already been close to two months. It feels like just yesterday that my mom was getting on my butt about how I suck at planning and how I was leaving in 2 weeks. It's definitely true that I suck at planning and doing things on time. I'm trying to work on that, Mom. Don't worry :)
As much as I miss my American Family, I have an international family, too. 
Things are different but good. 


I just have to exclaim something real quick. 
MY FAMILY IS COMING IN TWO WEEKS. 
THEN MATT IS COMING RIGHT AFTER. 
I am beyond excited to share my now home with my family and friends. I have so many things to show off and so many people to be introduced. 
It'll be weird, to have both of my worlds collide but man I have never been more ready to see them.

I am doing some serious exploring in the next few days. I will make sure to write again early next week. 

I love you all. 

Until next time America, 
XOXOX 
McKenzie 




Saturday, March 12, 2016

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move"

I personally do not believe there is any sort of preparation that can happen that would make one ready for moving across the world. 

I remember it being Sunday night and I was laying in bed with Samantha and Erin after packing up the last of my things and not even realizing that I would be on a plane within a few hours. I remember reading so many articles, asking anyone and everyone for advice, and trying to gather all the information I could. I thought I was ready and prepared to move across the world, but no one is actually ready. I've been here for a month and I still don't think I'm ready to be here. I think that is what makes this experience as great as it is. Never knowing what to prepare for. You just have to dive in and go with the flow. Meet new people, experience new things, and let live.



This week I started my classes. Wait, I'm actually going to school here? Gross.

I already know I am going to fall in love with my semester. My professors here are so great at relating to the students and they care. I'm in two criminology classes and two communication classes. One of my criminology classes focuses on international comparison crime and they mention the US a lot. It's going to be a bit more difficult but I know it's going to keep me on my toes. As soon as I spoke in that class, the first question I was asked was 'So do you pack heat?' and I had to politely tell them that not every single American carries a gun. Pow Pow. As soon as I mentioned that I know how to shoot a gun the blood rushed out of all their faces and it was like they thought I was the next Ted Bundy. I will say that even though I am a gun supporter, I have never felt more safe in an environment because no one carries. No one carries but they do have Magpie's and those little shits will swoop down and peck you to death. So you have one death trap banned, but another one takes its place.

I've gotten to know all of my flat mates and they are all wonderful people. One of my flat mates videotaped me as I climbed onto my roof because I locked myself out of my bedroom. GO MCKENZIE! (Hopefully my landlord never finds this blog) My favorite roommate is Sal. Sal is this GINORMOUS spider that likes to hang out above my door at night. I'm pretty sure we've cuddled a few times, but I like to play hard to get so I haven't invited him back. I also have a good friend that likes to run around inside my walls at night and keep me awake. I assume he's a possum, rat, or some lizard/snake/satan mixture. Other than the killer insects/rodants everything is absolutely breathtaking. The aussie men are.. well.. Aussie men. We all know. St. Kilda is probably my favorite place to spend time. It has a beautiful bay and at dusk all the penguins come to hang out for the night. The weather here is pretty similar to Indiana. BIPOLAR. 105 degrees one day, and 60 the next. Melbourne likes to keep things a bit crazy.



I am making plans to go to Tasmania, New Zealand, and definitely Sydney. I'm sure there will be some other stops along the way. I think it's hard to sit still in a place that has so many options. Melbourne always has a festival going on. I have never been to a place that is as multicultural and it is so entrancing. I love that all these people from everywhere in the world can come together and share one city so beautifully. I think I've met more foreigners here than actual australians.



I've definitely had a few crazy times here, probably not too appropriate to share on this blog. Feel free to ask Neysa or Starr, though. I'm sure they will be more than happy to spill the beans.

This week has been a nice and relaxing week and I have hung around the house. I'm starting to feel more like I'm living here than visiting, which is good. 3.5 months to go and I could not be happier to be here. Though, I will admit that I am already starting to schedule dinner dates when I get home because I AM CRAVING COMPLIMENTARY CHIPS AND SALSA FROM LAHA, FOUNTAIN DRINKS, TEXAS ROADHOUSE, AND SUSHI CLUB. The things I never thought I'd miss are the things that keep me awake at night. I've actually had a nightmare about never having La Hacienda again. It was the most traumatic event in my life.

Also, as many of you already know, I was chosen to be a Residence Assistant for Ball State University. That is a position that I have dreamed of having since Neysa was in college. I could not be more thankful for the opportunity. That also means that I will be going back to school at the very beginning of August. So, I'll only have a month back in Avon until I'm up and moving again. I am definitely not complaining, though.

I love and miss you all. Thank you for keeping in touch. I apologize if I am awful at replying or scheduling FaceTime dates. I get pretty busy here and kind of forget that I have a cell phone. I appreciate all the continuous support.

See you all soon,
XOXOX

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"So, What's Your Opinion on Trump?"


I apologize for just now getting to writing this first blog entry, I was too busy getting asked about my opinion on Donald Trump. Everyone here knows more about US politics than we do and it's quite disturbing. I'm pretty sure I've been asked my views on every single US president and when I seem hesitant to answer, they backfire with about 10 facts that I'm sure not even the president, himself,  knew.  You never realize how many americans are content with ignorance until you live in a place that plays international news on TV in every Maccas (McDonalds). 

Living in Australia has made me more aware about things other than myself. I find myself more curious about the culture, people, and lifestyle. I have learned to ask questions even if it makes me seem like a 'typical American' which is definitely an awful stereotype. I am more conscious in every day life than I have ever been. I've learned more about myself in just two weeks than I probably have in the past year. 

I have met people I never thought I'd meet. Different ages, cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs. I believe meeting these people has made my experience the best it could be so far. One person that I know will be someone I keep in touch with after I leave is Tammy. Tammy is from Hawaii, even though I look more Hawaiian than she does (She was born in Pennsylvania.). We met one day in St. Kilda after talking on Facebook for a few days before me arriving. Some of my best nights have been when I'm hanging out with her. We are practically the same person just in two bodies, two very different bodies saying that she is a tall blonde and well I assume you all remember what I look like, haha. 

I have been asked a lot about what I think my favorite experience so far is and I don't think I could name anything specific. I've been so many places, met so many people, and have experienced so much for only being here for 2.5 weeks. 
To start off my adventure, I had a plane cancellation which left me in LA for a whole day to explore. I fell in love there. The architecture was to die for. I was asked for my hand in marriage about 3 times and I facetimed with one of my best friends, Jordan, on the beach. That day really showed me that I could be on my own and navigate through a city without anyone. 
Once I got to Australia, I took no time to settle in. I got lost on a tram for 2.5 hours when it should have taken me 45 minutes. I didn't even unpack until today, March 2nd. Whoops!
I have been to Lorne, Victoria and talk about breathtaking. I have never seen a more beautiful view. While there, I got hit on by a 50 + year old man who said he wanted to keep me 'warm' at night.  That was a part of Australia I decided to pass on. 
I went into the country with some awesome people. We went to a Brewery and tried different beers. We went through an area that had a brush fire in 2009 and it was so odd seeing nature come back to life after going through something that devastating. The guy driving, James, knew everything about everything. Also, by the way, driving here is the most terrifying thing you will ever experience as an American because they drive on the opposite side of the road with the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car. Back to James though, we jokingly told him that he should be a tour guide for Melbourne because he knew knew so many random facts. It was impressive. I also saw a Wallaby! Sorry to burst absolutely everyone's bubble, but I have NOT seen a Kangaroo yet, even though it's on my to-do list.
I had the chance to partake in Melbourne's 'White Night' which is a huge festival where they illuminate multiple buildings in the city with moving picture art. Some told stories of Australia's history and some were just beautiful art. I drank a bit ;) and just enjoyed the night with absolutely wonderful people. I had dinner at a vietnamese restaurant and man did I eat well. The asian food here is unbelievable. 
I have gotten to know some Melbourne bars,  of course! While being responsible, don't worry Mother! :) 
Altogether, Melbourne has showed me a great time here and I am more than excited to call it my home. I can't wait to show my friends and family my home if and when they decide to visit. How odd it is to say Australia is my home now. 

While I miss all of my family and friends back home, I am doing okay here. More than okay, actually. I am thriving and learning. I already know this experience will cause me to come back a different person than I left. Especially because now I use Australian terms, cheers mate! 

School starts for me next Wednesday and I couldn't be more ready for that. It will keep me busy and also introduce me to other Australians. I have noticed that Australians are infatuated with Americans and it's quite humorous. Everyone in the states always raves about an Australian accent and everyone I've talked to hates their own. Silly right?! I have yet to record one, Sorry Caitlyn! Ill make sure to do that sometime though, don't you worry. ;)

One of my greatest accomplishment while being here is that I learned how to hack onto Hulu through Australia. I now indulge in The Bachelor and Greys Anatomy late at night. I have no regrets. Hey, now when I get that RA position (crosses fingers) I can say that I am Tech Saavy. Hopefully Ashley Taylor and Matt Brown are reading this so they can pass on my RA-like qualities. :P

Sorry for this bad quality of blog, too. I am learning how to operate this website, so hopefully there will be pictures in my next entry. I also will be updating weekly from here on out, so keep an eye out for my status! 

Love and miss you all, 

XOXOX 
From Australia