I was lucky enough to explore the destination I've dreamed of for as long as I can remember. Australia has always seemed so appealing to me - barrier reefs, foreign wildlife, and tales of prisoners being filling up the scorched land already rich with history.
At 19, I booked a flight and prepared to be part of a Bible study abroad program to finally explore this land below the equator. Upon arriving I boarded a train and headed to Bowral, New South Wales. This small town is nestled in the verdant brush an our and a half away from the metropolis of Sydney. In the mornings, as us students tumbled out of bunk beds and towards the dining hall, kangaroos bounded around the river and into the fields. I found one too many ominous fuzzy spiders for my liking and had some of the best lattes I've ever tasted. One pastry - a hazelnut muffin - stood out so much that I named my food photography business after it (That's Hazelnuts). We swam in the muddy river and biked into town for Macca's (McDonald's).
While Australian street laws reminded me I was far from home and and stewy meat pies filling the pastry containers at cafes struck me as sickening, the place felt somehow so oddly familiar. During previous trips abroad I've often encountered intense culture differences and awkward language blocks...but in Australia I felt so comfortable. I often was shocked back to reality when a kangaroo sped across the highway or the blue mountains towered in the sky before me.
On my last week on this iconic continent, we explored the crystal clear beaches and several coastal towns. I marveled at the sand rounding and relaxing as the waves pushed and pulled. The hot fries nearly burnt my tongue as I ordered a creamy latte for my walk. I left with a pit in my stomach but missed home too much to stay for another few weeks.