A bit of Jetlag and Shock

Last weekend I was in Lisbon and now I’m on a plane back to Madrid from Sydney.

Lisbon was one of our very first trips booked on exchange, for many of us it was the forgotten trip, but not necessarily purposely forgotten but rather put aside as it was our last trip with all of. It’s hard to come to terms that exchange is almost over and everywhere we have been able to go to and all the incredible things we have seen.

We headed off rather early and boarded our Easy Jet flight, which was all ready to depart until they couldn’t shut the front door, leaving us to disembark the aircraft and wait an extra hour or so to leave Madrid. Luckily with the hour time difference we didn’t miss out on too much in Lisbon. Two things you need to know about Lisbon is: Firstly it is the capital city of Portugal and the second thing you need to know is that it is built on hills. Another fun fact is this is my second time to Portugal this year and guess what? It was raining again!

What to expect? Crazy cab drivers that make you feel like you’re on a non-stop rollercoaster ride however cheap fares. (Unsure if it has something to do with the fact they make you feel motion sick every ride). Hills everywhere, so unless you want an endless leg day and huffing and puffing would highly recommend, getting a daily public transport ticket, a hop on/ hop off ticket or cab everywhere. Sea food everywhere, the greatest custard tarts (their famous dessert) Would definitely recommend searching for a chocolate flavoured one – they still make my mouth water just thinking about them. Lisbon is known for it’s cork and has some wonderful gifts for the family. In terms of the streets they have a certain beauty that makes you constantly question where actually in the world are you. You can see the poverty of the country yet you are surround by people from all around the world who actually have residence in Lisbon. The old buildings are similar to Spain although are covered by gorgeous different tiles. There are definitely areas that feel safer to others, but Lisbon is a big city with a lot to be done and seen, one could definitely easily spend a weekend there.

Unfortunately not long into our trip, in fact early Saturday morning I received a phone call from Australia. My Pop had passed away that day. Without any doubt I rang my insurance company and then booked flights home. My insurance company doesn’t pay for them up front but I should be able to receive the money back once my application is cleared. This is a good note for any traveler, I had only briefly looked into these terms of my insurance papers but make sure you are aware. As flights home are a huge unexpected cost, especially if you want to return home and then back to your exchange/holiday. With flights booked, support and love from my incredible American friends, we all returned back to Madrid Sunday afternoon. We quickly packed my bag and returned to the airport within the hour.

As you could imagine the 26 hours flying home is a long trip but especially when you’re not prepared to go home and to face the situation. With a lot of tears and tissues I managed to make it home. I wont go into much detail but I arrived Tuesday morning and then flew out again Sunday evening. I didn’t actually feel like I was home until Saturday so it made it harder than I thought to actually get back on the plane. Although sitting here now I know I made the right decision, even though it still feels so unreal, It was the right thing to go home and say goodbye but also not allow too much time at home.

I have decided to return to Madrid as I only travel the world today because of my Pop and I know I need to finish what I have started. Losing someone you love will never be easy regardless where in the world you are, but life keeps happening whether you want it to or not.

Jess xx

 

Keeping active abroad

Upon telling everyone I was going to the USA, the one comment I heard more than anything else was ‘you’re going to gain a lot of weight’. They even said it with extra emphasis when I told them I would be in the South. Rather than using these presumptions as an excuse to eat to my hearts contention, I am already on my way to becoming a changed women… For the better of course! Everyone who knew me before I came over knows I was ‘allergic to exercise’ to say the least.

I am in such a strong place of mind here. Since day 1 of starting classes I have been going to the gym every day with my suite mate, who is as much as an amazing person as an amazing motivator. Without her I may not even know where the gyms located, which would be a tremendous shame as Georgia College has done a truly incredible job with the gyms layout and facilities (my jaw dropped). I even went for a 5km run yesterday with a friend to an area in Milledgeville called the ‘Green way’ (the name suits the location perfectly). The friend also just so happened to be a personal trainer, and let’s just say the word ‘please’ had no effect on him. For a girl who does not sweat easily, I was REALLY sweating.

Even before I got to college and was traveling around the West Coast I was always on the move. Hiking the Grand Canyon was not a walk in the park, that’s for sure. Even walking the pier, up Lombard Street and hopelessly around San Francisco in general is a big deal for me! (I am even considering buying pre-workout ‘stuff’… who am I!?)

Changing countries does not mean you let yourself go, it is a chance to become someone even better. Someone you always knew you could be.

San Francisco, where do I even begin…

Here I did a lot of getting lost and a lot of getting found.
Google maps your killing me, I can not work out if you want me to go left or right!

By this stage in my travels I had been blindly following a tour guide and moving with my friends as a group, not paying attention to how, when or where I get from point A to point B. San Francisco was a whole new story.

For anyone who has not been to San Francisco, it is ridiculously expensive. Good cheap accommodation is almost impossible to find. I booked a place called The ‘Adelaide hostel’, and my first impression was how the heck am I meant to get my luggage up those stairs… It was a struggle, but I pulled through. But to be honest that is probably my only complaint, who doesn’t like complimentary breakfast and a place with a bit of character.

Before I forget, MY PLANE GOT DELAYED AGAIN! I had one hour sleep in Vegas before I had to leave for the airport, only to be stuck in the airport for an extra 5 hours. I was dying for a snooze on the plane, but of course that’s when you sit next to someone who wants to have a conversation with no pauses.

Back to San Fran,

My first morning in San Francisco consisted of a bike tour around the most stunning areas, and was enlightened about the strong hippy history that circulated the area. Shout out to the company I did this through, ‘SOSF’ your great. (Streets of San Francisco Bike Tour). The neighbourhoods I visited were Hayes Valley, Civic Center, Mission, Lower Haight, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, Nopa, Alamo Square. https://sosfbiketours.com/tours/heart-of-the-city/

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I have decided that I am never booking anything in the morning ever again, trying to find where my tours started was a struggle and a half. I was so excited when I finally found the bus I needed to take only to find out that I needed to get on the one on the other side of the road…
I am actually pleasantly surprised about how I handed myself in these situations. I just took a deep breath and kept on trying, and finally I would succeed. If you know me, you would know that I have little patience at the best of time so this is a big deal!

I believe I got a little bit better at finding my way around on my second day… or just at paying people to walk me to the right bus (only happened once!). But either way I made it to Alcatraz on time, and I will own that. I am so surprised at how much I enjoyed visiting Alcatraz, I literally could have stayed there for another 2 hours if it wasn’t for getting hungry. Who would have thought you could get such an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge from a prison? certainly not me, but low and behold it does.
Dinner was had at Pier 39 at ‘Bubba Gump Shrimp’ and I was so ecstatic to be reunited with my long lost Contiki pals! I loved pier 39, and would definitely recommend a visit there.

Well that’s me for now 🙂

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I cannot believe I have officially been in the USA for over 2 weeks, if this is how quick it is going to go I’ll be home before I know it.

I wish I could have given daily updates about what I have been experiencing but I literally have not stopped, not to mention the reception I receive through my phone provider over here T-Mobile is shocking (apparently Horizon is the one to go for).

There is so much I could write about but I will try to summaries my time so far as well as possible by listing 3 things about each place I have.

ME TRYING TO SUMMARIZE

LA – Explored downtown LA, I think it’s nicer than it is given credit for
– I made a friend just by walking across the road. The friendship led to me getting treated to the best tacos I have ever eaten, all a friendship needs right?
– Visited Venice Beach with a friend I met at the hostel ‘Stay on Main’ and received free spray tans!

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San Diego – First day traveling with Contiki (I couldn’t have asked for a better group to travel with)
– Watched my first game of baseball; Arizona vs. Miami (officially a San Diego supporter due to buying a hat…)
– Visited the San Diego Zoo, and oh my gosh it was exercise and a half. If your going to go wear runners, and also visit the panda first if you don’t appreciate 30minutes waits.
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Arizona – You know when you open up a hot oven, that is what Arizona felt like.
– Dealt with the heat in the best way possible by having a pool party
– Went to Sedona to do Jeep tour riding in the Wild West! (highly recommend visiting Sedona)

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Grand Canyon – Finally had a vegetable here and my body loved me for it! Never been so happy to see broccoli

– Went for a hike down, and more importantly back up the canyon. Vegetables and exercise, grand Canyon was looking good.

– Witness the most beautiful sight I have seen to date; the sun rising over the Grand Canyon. You cannot visit the Grand Canyon without doing this, trust me.

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Los Vegas – Loved the shopping here, and didn’t my wallet know it. Fell in love with the store ‘Banana Republic’ – found it similar to Witchery.
– I went to a club with an amazing roof top Terrance called Omnia. The price of drinks and even water ($11) gives you an indication of how nice this club was, worth a visit just to see the view from the top.
– My last night of Contiki will always be remembered. Who wouldn’t remember a limo ride in Vegas right?

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I think San Francisco deserves it’s own blog. It would be impossible for me to only write 3 things about my visit here. Let me know if you are planning to visit one of these places and want more information on it.

START COLLEGE TOMORROW!!!!

Flight day

The day I have been waiting for finally arrived today ‘flight day’. I’m not sure if I am the only one, but I had the whole ideal mapped out in my head.

1. Have my toast with vegemite for breakfast

2. Put on my carefully selected clothes

3. Arrive at the Canberra airport for a 7:35am departure to Brisbane “

4. Visit the TRS so I could claim my tax back for my tablet

5. Depart Brisbane and head to LA

But if only it was that easy,,, The only things that went right were the first 2 steps. (p.s. I did thoroughly enjoy the vegemite sandwich) At midnight I awoke to a text message from Virgin alerting me that I would no longer be flying to Brisbane but in fact Sydney and that I had to arrive at the airport 30mins earlier then intended… Okay that’s fine. It’s when I got to the airport that things got a little unhinged. One word ‘DELAYED’. Normally a delay wouldn’t bother me, but due to the delay I was told that LA would have to be put off till another day, as I would miss my adjoining flight.

Here I need to apologies, as recently when watching the news concerning flights being cancelled in and out of Bali due to the ash cloud, I was found saying “I would prefer the cancellation than risking anything whilst it is such bad conditions! Horray for safety measures”. I wanted to get on the plane. And now here is where I thank Virgin Australia. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANKYOU for finding a plane for me to board! (Back story: The plane was delayed due to the fog being so bad in Canberra overnight that no planes were able to flying into the airport… Besides one. One very special one which I was offered to board. MY SAVIOUR) Sure it was a rat race from one plane to the next, meaning no TRS for Jess L and only a split second for a toilet break (it was that intense!), but it has all been worth it, for as I write I am on the plane to the USA!

I also must admit that the plane has exceeded my expectations, for I am currently spread across 3 seats quite comfortably, enjoying a vodka and orange juice (big deal as I am not going to be legal in 10 hours!) , and surprisingly also the lunch meal; a mushroom tortellini I would happily eat again.

Next stop LA!

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Why not throw in a Contiki?

Gosh,

my first post was only 2 second ago and here I go again already!
I just thought I might give a little insight to my plans prior exchange. CONTIKI. It has not even begun yet but I feel as though I have already meet so many amazing and interesting people, I thank Contiki for the way they put us all in contact with each other. It is only an 8 day contiki starting on the 26th of July (SO SOON!), but I think it will give me the welcome I need into America, as well as a little confidence before I head to San Francisco where I intend to do a little solo exploring.

I will make sure that I give you all updates along the way, but here’s my itinerary so to give you a little idea 🙂
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Meet Jessica S

Hi all!
So just a little about me…
I am a 3rd year business marketing student who up until now has been happily studying away at Charles Sturt University, however this semester there is going to be a little change, as I will heading to the U S of A!
As of the 11th of August I will have the honour to complete student exchange at Georgia College and State University, and I am currently in a world of excitement.

This blog will be dedicated to my journey and be governed by the fact that I allowed a long time dream to become a reality,1656117_760130243999061_697712718_n