While I was gone for two weeks, I didn't stop journaling so I could remember all the wonderful things that happened on my vacation away from my vacation. In this post I'll include my entries from when Devin and I were in Coolangatta, and in the next one will be all about the shenanigans from Uni Games. 

September 25th 
Yesterday Devin and I ventured up north to Gold Coast to start off our spring break. Uni Games start this upcoming Monday but since we wanted to get in some quality relaxation and beach time of our own, we came up a few days early. We arrived at our hostel late afternoon and after buying the necessary groceries and beach accessories, we headed to the beach to soak up the last bit of sunlight. Devin, in his usual manual, ran straight into the frigid water, while I opted to sprawl out on my towel and read my book.

The hostel we are staying at is a block away from the beach and in every single way it is nicer than the student village back in Melbourne. Devin and I pay $30 a night to share a room with 8 bunk beds; there is a TV room with plenty of comfy couches and a movie selection, a community kitchen, and the bathrooms are nice enough that I don’t feel like wearing flip flops is a total necessity. I want to stay here forever and never go back to living in the jail cell I call home here in Australia. When I let myself think about it, I get so angry and sad at the same time for how much living at the student village blows. I forgot to mention that I just recently learned the village was a gift to VU from the Immigration Detention Center because it didn’t meet the standards for their detainees. Isn’t that so nice? Oh, and I’m about four years too early staying at the village because the property was just sold for $35 million to be torn down and have new student apartments be built. But I digress…

It’s hard to be upset today because this afternoon we learned how to surf! I had never worn a wet suit before, so I had actually doubted their usefulness until I walked into the water today – they keep you so warm! I’m a big wuss when it comes to water temperatures, so I need it to be pretty warm if I’m going to be swimming around in it; and given that it is still early spring here down under, a wet suit was completely necessary. I knew going into these lessons I knew absolutely nothing about surfing, but gosh – I really knew nothing about surfing. While they didn’t overload us with information, I was still struggling to remember the basic instructions of “lean forward” and “keep your head up”. You see, when you first start to actually get upright on a moving surfboard, your first instinct is to look down at your feet just to make sure it’s actually happening; however nine times out of ten, whenever you look down, you are bound to fall off your board. I was surprised to discover that the most exhausting part wasn’t getting up on the surfboard and holding my position. No the most exhausting part was having to get back into the surf while dragging my board along beside me. In general, the currents in Australia are pretty strong, and this beach was no exception. I was constantly being dragged to my left while simultaneously getting smacked in the face wave after wave. After two hours of that I was pretty dead, but it was so worth it because I was actually starting to get the hang of it. And as expected, Devin did so as well. He was already going out deeper than the rest of us dared to because he was too bored with the skill demands that the waves we were catching called for. We’re already psyched for tomorrow because to hire a surfboard for a day is only like $20, so you know what that means: I’m going to be swallowing a lot more salt water.

September 26th
I’ve decided that in many ways Devin resembles a puppy, in that he is always a ball full of energy, and if he is already up, there is no way you can continue to sleep undisturbed. Being out in the sun for five hours takes a lot out of you, so last night we were both passed out by eleven and I had every intention of sleeping in; however Devin had a different plan. He was up by eight and rummaging around eating cereal as I slowly came into consciousness, just sitting there with a big grin on his face, completely unaware of how loud his chewing was. Since I’m on vacation, I feel no rush to complete things, as I have the whole day to complete my activities – especially when I wake up at eight. Therefore I felt no rush as I lazily moved around washing my face and preparing my breakfast. I even came out onto the porch to read while munching on my Froot Loops, but my little puppy made it clear I wasn’t moving fast enough. He wanted to get out and surf, so I hurried along and we were down at the beach by 9:30. However to our disappointment, the waves were pretty nonexistent for surfing. The parts with the best waves were off limits for surfers because of two reasons, the first being the rocks and the second being the screaming children playing in the surf, neither of which would be fun to hit.

So what did we do all day? Because Devin needs to be moving every second of every day, we were playing Frisbee, we were exploring, and I even got in the water with him for a combined total of 45 seconds. Let me just say there was no getting used to the temperature. Devin swore by it, telling me I just had to get used to it, but every time a wave would smack against my body as I tried to jump out of its way, I would instantly be chilled to the bone. At lunchtime, Devin made sure to grab his boogie board and that became his playmate the second half of the day, leaving me to peacefully read my book. However towards the end of the day Devin suddenly became fascinated with my reaction to whenever he would get sand on me. He did this in various ways – simply tossing sand onto me, shaking his towel over my head, and then finally just romantically tripping me backwards so I fell, covering my whole backside and hair. You can bet I was cursing in the shower as I tried to get all of the sand out of the tangled mat of hair the ocean and wind had made it become.

As we sit out here on the porch of our hostel, I realize just how much I love the simple things. Even though this is only our third night here, Devin and I have already fallen into the routine of reading together while sharing a beanbag and enjoying the ocean breeze. While it seems like such an insignificant activity, it has become my favorite part of the past few days. I think there’s something contagious about living in a hostel and it has to do with everyone’s attitude because, for the most part, everyone seems so content and happy. From where I’m sitting, I can here a group of boys singing Usher together as they clean up their dishes. There are people that live at this hostel who work on a farm that make $50 a week, and each night they make a huge dinner together, all with smiling faces. What I’m saying is, it’s hard not to be at this place and not to be happy because it helps remind me that it is really the simple things in life that make you the happiest.

September 27th
It’s officially happened – I have my first real Australian sunburn. Thanks to the three hours of surfing this afternoon, I have a real nice burn line on both of my arms, the part in my hairline is fried, and my face is splotchy. The most annoying burns out of those three however are the ones on my arms, because they extend down from where my wet suit ended all the way down to my palms, and they itch like crazy. The burns also look quite freakish because my fingers are still pretty white, and where the burns begin on my upper arm are just below where my t-shirt line ends. I’m so unevenly colored it’s driving me crazy! In addition to the burns, I also have board rash on my forearms and knees, so needless to say my skin is not very happy with me.

As we were heading back to our hostel for the afternoon, Devin and I noticed everyone on the pathway in front of us looking out towards the sea. Wanting to fit in, we immediately tried to figure out what was captivating everyone’s attention. It didn’t take long to spot the whales offshore, breeching and spouting water from their blowholes. Granted they were pretty far away, but we were able to distinguish between the sizes and we decided one of them was a calf because of how small his splash was compared to the others. It was so magical, even from so far away, to see them just frolicking along, enjoying the warm, sunny day just as we were onshore. Anytime I see an animal, be it a dog, lizard, bunny, or whale, I get overwhelmed with a sense of joy that I was able to share part of my day with it. That can sound a little ridiculous I know, and granted I am definitely not thrilled to share my day with a spider or something that could kill me, but how often do we go throughout our days not noticing the small things? Seeing animals in their natural habitat, doing their thing, helps me realize that we share this planet with some amazing creatures and we should be more appreciative of them. PETA would be so proud…

September 28th
It’s crazy to think we have another week here at Gold Coast to soak up the sun. I honestly don’t know if my face can fit any more freckles, but I suppose this week I will find out.

Today though was pretty cloudy, so it was perfect that we had planned to visit some of our Frisbee friends up at Surfer’s Paradise. It was also the AFL Grand Final this afternoon, which is the Aussie equivalent to the super bowl, so it was a pretty big deal to some people. But for internationals, not so much, however the atmosphere that surrounded the game was entertainment enough. It made me feel like I was back in the states on spring break; the crappy motel room, the binge drinking that some were taking part in – it made me feel like I was in Panama City all over again. The whole experience was just a little peek into the week we are about to partake in, and I definitely need to treat it like a marathon and not a sprint, unless I want to die. I am absolutely stoked for the week ahead of us because I have absolutely no idea what to expect, besides knowing that the people I am going to be with are going to make it an amazing time. Tiff, one of the gals on my team, started talking to me today about how sad she already was that we won’t be here in a couple months, and I had to stop her as soon as she started that conversation. But now that she planted that seed of an idea in my thoughts, I have realized how hard it is going to be leaving the friends I have made here come December. They have become a part of my life and it’s terrifying to think that I will have to say goodbye to them for who knows how long, but that’s enough of that talk. I love my life here to say the least, besides my living accommodations, and the friendships I have made here will stay with me the rest of my life – I’m sure of it. 

We also just met this guy named James at our hostel, who is heading off to Surfer’s Paradise for Uni Games tomorrow as well, and he is studying to be a pilot. He’s been flying for three years, he is about to graduate, and has a lot of his piloting licenses already, so he seems legit. We’ve been talking to him for over two hours, and he’s a cool dude – so cool in fact, he’s offered to give us a free tour around Melbourne Bay in his plane. I want to pee my pants in fear just thinking about it, but how cool of an experience would that be? Granted it’s easy to talk big now and be all like “Flying? No I’m not scared. Take me up in your tiny plane!” but when it comes time to actually fly with him, I’ll have to reassess my attitude. 


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