Happy Australia Day 2015!

 

I don’t know how long it took for Australia Day to become a permanent fixture in my life, but over time it has become an eerie subconscious feeling. Like the universe lets me know in advance that it’s approaching. About a week ago, I stumbled upon a stash of Tim Tams at Target (God Bless America). They haven’t showed up there in years, so I stocked up. A few nights later, I had a dream I was back in Sydney. I wore my new itty bitty compass necklace to work that day. Next thing I know, it’s the 26th and I’m oozing with jealousy over all of my Aussie friends and their celebrations. There’s a slight chance that I’m just jealous that they’re in the middle of summer while it’s snowing over here.

Just because I’m 17 hours behind and over 9,000 miles away doesn’t mean I’m not going to celebrate my second home! I did it the only way I could: by pre-ordering one of my favorite Australian band’s albums, eating lots of Tim Tams, hanging up the bunting from my last trip, and drinking my favorite cider (the one I bought constantly while living in Melbourne).

Oops, left my heart in Australia. Guess I have to go get it back.

(Bonus photo: How cute does my bunting look hanging up over my world map?)

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“23”: THE FINAL POST

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That’s it! I’m officially 24 as of today *insert belated July 4th fireworks here* (well, technically I have until this evening, but let’s not get that technical for the sake of simplicity, which I’m becoming a fan of more and more these days). Here’s where my “23” bucket list stands on it’s last day:

1. Leave my job at IB

2. Get a new job (and love it) — I got a new job and I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love it. It’s not what I had in mind when I wrote this list, but it’s a new job nonetheless. And I’m using it as motivation to continue looking for the job that I’ll be proud to say I love.

3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation)I DID IT. I MADE IT BACK TO AUSTRALIA, TOOK A MONTH-LONG DREAM VACATION AND MANAGED TO CROSS OFF A LOT OF THIS LIST. I’M STILL IN DISBELIEF, BUT IT HAPPENED AND IT WAS AMAZING!

4. Meet and hang out with BlakeThis might be the one thing on my list I’m more excited about than the fact that I actually was in Australia. I’ve known Blake for a couple of years now and in that time, he’s become one of my best friends. We met on tumblr, so it’s been a dream of mine to meet my best-friend-across-the-world. We met and then eventually, we hung out— it was the best. Highlight of my week in Sydney, hands down.

5. Get my first tattoo — I’ve at least picked what I’d like my first one to be (officially)

6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again, without the anxiety this time

7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL)Ok, this one’s a stretch, but I did make it to Cali. Granted, it was just a layover at LAX. But I paid for the flights and I was there, so…. the “esp.” will just have to make it onto my next bucket list.

8. Get paid to write

9. Go on vacation with Amanda — Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!

10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most)I did the Color Run in Chicago on June 8th and even though we technically walked the entire thing (with a few bursts of running at most), it was the most fun I’ve had at a 5K and that’s an accomplishment itself.

11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything.I went scuba diving on a total whim and it was the most unreal, thrilling 45 minutes of my life.

12. Learn something newSo far: calligraphy and how to make guacamole. And guess what? I’ve had so much fun with both of these things that I was reminded of how great it feels to learn something new.

13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete)I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!

14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive wayI’ve been waiting to cross this one off, because it’s a big one. But between the people I met in Australia, my dear friend Blake, and the guy I dated for a few months, my life has been impacted in a positive way.

15. Impact someone’s life in a positive wayI talked to Amanda about this one back in March(ish) when she asked what I had left on my list. This was one of them. It took her maybe half a second to say, “Are you crazy? Of course you’ve impacted someone’s life in a positive way!” And because of that, I’m crossing this one off.

16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)Get this: triple whammy. I fell in love with my dive instructor in the Great Barrier Reef while scuba diving with him. Ok, mostly joking about that. But I did manage to fall in love with a place on my trip: Sydney. This city is beautiful and it was ridiculously hard to say goodbye.

17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment

18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled

19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!)

20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in MelbourneThis item is no longer possible, BUT I’m giving myself another exception here: I saw Hamish Blake IN REAL LIFE perform in a comedy show as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, which, let’s be honest, was way more exciting for me than a soccer game would have been.

21. Do something for myselfI put all of my money into my trip to Australia and while it was a crazy thing to do financially, it was a gift to myself. I’ve been struggling to focus on where I want to head on my career path, so I took a month off to see what else is out there. My month abroad was SO different from the first time I traveled abroad alone. It was a new experience to explore on my own, create my own schedule, take a trip with strangers who became friends, and re-connect with old friends. It’s not about the money at all. It’s about the fact that I went on an actual adventure that has made me appreciate everything I have and everyone I know so much more than I did before. And now I feel more energized to figure out where I need to go from here.

22. Read a total of 23 books (I read 13.5, which is a big deal for me tbh)

23. Find a new favorite spot in ChicagoI waited til the end of my bucket list time frame to give myself a chance to explore. I thought back to the months I spent interning for The Everygirl and thought of how much I loved Lincoln Park (especially seeing the building where my Grandpa grew up, because the universe does crazy things like that), but my favorite spot was standing on a Brown Line el headed toward the city. It’s not a skyline view you can get unless you’re elevated and I think it’s safe to say that’s my new favorite spot in Chicago.

Total: 18 out of 23

Now before you go, let’s chat.

Looking back at 23, I realize what a great year it was for me: I landed a dream internship, where I got the opportunity to write about music for a huge audience. I pushed my writing boundaries and learned how to write interview questions. I met some really awesome interns who became friends. I saved up enough money to fly myself back to my favorite place in the entire world. I got to visit friends I hadn’t seen in three years and show my sister around where I lived in Melbourne. I got to meet one of my best friends across the world. I met a ton of amazing, inspiring people. I did something that actually still scares the crap out of me and loved every terrifying second of it. I became closer with certain friends. I kept up traditions and made new ones. I went on a date with a guy and ended up dating him for six months. I tried new things, learned new things, ate new things. Generally speaking, I genuinely believe I have grown up a lot over the last 365 days.

Writing this list of things to accomplish in a year not only motivated me to try harder, but also to try new. I like familiar. I tend to stick to things I know, people I know, and places I know. As I go about navigating 24, I plan to do 25 things that will push me to grow even more. Of course, I’ll stick to some familiar things, but I can’t wait to meet more people, date new people, discover new writers and musicians, find a job that makes me feel fulfilled at the end of the day, and hopefully get to know myself better. I always roll my eyes when people say “you need to love yourself before you let someone love you.” And I was always impatient about finding someone to fall in love with. But I’m starting to accept that the universe has a way of doing things that bump you into place, despite the bruises and confusion along the way. I’m learning to love who I am and not roll my eyes when someone compliments me, because guess what? I am pretty awesome.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve already begun writing my “25 by 25” list. It’s in the works, as it likely will continue to be for a couple of months. Even if I don’t finish everything on that list either, I’m excited to see where 24 will take me– or more likely, where I decide to take 24. Despite all of the positivity up there, I had a lot of doubtful, lost moments as a 23-year-old, but I’m actually ready for 24. I’m prepared to have moments of doubt and fear. What I’m finding to be the most important is that I didn’t rush it. Which is why I don’t plan to rush 25 either. After all, I have 25 things I need to accomplish before then!

“23”: Updated (15/23 complete) with only 18 days to go

1. Leave my job at IB

2. Get a new job (and love it)

3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation)I DID IT. I MADE IT BACK TO AUSTRALIA, TOOK A MONTH-LONG DREAM VACATION AND MANAGED TO CROSS OFF A LOT OF THIS LIST. I’M STILL IN DISBELIEF, BUT IT HAPPENED AND IT WAS AMAZING!

4. Meet and hang out with BlakeThis might be the one thing on my list I’m more excited about than the fact that I actually was in Australia. I’ve known Blake for a couple of years now and in that time, he’s become one of my best friends. We met on tumblr, so it’s been a dream of mine to meet my best-friend-across-the-world. We met and then eventually, we hung out— it was the best. Highlight of my week in Sydney, hands down.

5. Get my first tattoo — I’ve at least picked what I’d like my first one to be (officially)

6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again, without the anxiety this time

7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL)Ok, this one’s a stretch, but I did make it to Cali. Granted, it was just a layover at LAX. But I paid for the flights and I was there, so…. the “esp.” will just have to make it onto my next bucket list.

8. Get paid to write

9. Go on vacation with Amanda — Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!

10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most)I did the Color Run in Chicago on June 8th and even though we technically walked the entire thing (with a few bursts of running at most), it was the most fun I’ve had at a 5K and that’s an accomplishment itself.

11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything.I went scuba diving on a total whim and it was the most unreal, thrilling 45 minutes of my life.

12. Learn something new — So far: calligraphy and how to make guacamole. And guess what? I’ve had so much fun with both of these things that I was reminded of how great it feels to learn something new. Let’s see what else I can add here before next month.

13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete)I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!

14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive wayI’ve been waiting to cross this one off, because it’s a big one. But between the people I met in Australia, my dear friend Blake, and the guy I dated for a few months, my life has been impacted in a positive way.

15. Impact someone’s life in a positive way

16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)Get this: triple whammy. I fell in love with my dive instructor in the Great Barrier Reef while scuba diving with him. Ok, mostly joking about that. But I did manage to fall in love with a place on my trip: Sydney. This city is beautiful and it was ridiculously hard to say goodbye.

17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment

18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled

19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!)

20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in MelbourneThis item is no longer possible, BUT I’m giving myself another exception here: I saw Hamish Blake IN REAL LIFE perform in a comedy show, which let’s be honest, was way more exciting for me than a soccer game would have been.

21. Do something for myselfI put all of my money into my trip to Australia and while it was a crazy thing to do financially, it was a gift to myself. I’ve been struggling to focus on where I want to head on my career path, so I took a month off to see what else is out there. My month abroad was SO different from the first time I traveled abroad alone. It was a new experience to explore on my own, create my own schedule, take a trip with strangers who became friends, and re-connect with old friends. It’s not about the money at all. It’s about the fact that I went on an actual adventure that has made me appreciate everything I have and everyone I know so much more than I did before. And now I feel more energized to figure out where I need to go from here.

22. Read a total of 23 books

23. Find a new favorite spot in Chicago

Updates:
#10: The Color Run was an absolute blast and I’ve already come up with a team name for next year. Even though I really wanted to dedicate myself to running, it’s just not my thing. No matter how hard I try to train myself. We walked, we got colored, we had an awesome time. And it gave me an excuse to hang out with my best friends downtown on a Sunday morning. Win win.

#12: I’ve only dabbled in calligraphy thus far, but I’m not going to quit anytime soon. It’s surprisingly soothing! I turn on music, scribble out some lyrics, and see where things go. I’ve even tried watercolor calligraphy (not so smooth). Also learned how to make homemade guacamole and it was a hit with the family, so I think it’s just a sign that I should keep on learning in the kitchen while I’m at it!
Itty Bitty Reflection
Things are winding down and I’m realizing it definitely won’t be possible to complete everything, but looking back at what I have accomplished is exciting. And I feel like I didn’t let this year slip by like I have with previous years. Often times, I found myself rushing to turn another year older. I’ve embraced 23 and took the reins for a change.

In the spirit of bucket listing, I’ve already begun writing my “25 by 25” list (which I’ll hold off on posting until July). It’s in the works and even if I don’t finish everything on that list either, I’m actually looking forward to seeing what I’ll push myself to do. What improvements I’ll make. How I’ll grow as a person within a year. I’ve had my fair share of doubtful moments whilst 23, but seeing my next list come together already is already proving to myself that I’m motivated to move, change, grow, learn, etc.

On that note, the final “23” post will go up in about 18 days, when I’m officially 24 years old. How many more things can I scratch off before then? Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Solo in Sydney

Looking back on my five days in Sydney,  I can’t believe I actually considered skipping the end of my trip because of one little panic attack. I am so, so happy I stuck it out, because I don’t think I would have fallen in love with this city otherwise. I was glad I checked off the bridge climb on my one day here with Lauren earlier in April, because it opened up a day for wandering and let’s be honest, it was so much fun getting to share that memory with her (at night and in the rain, no less). After three straight weeks of chaos/travel, I was ready to slow down and savor Sydney.

On my first day, I settled into my tiny airbnb apartment (which I should note: I grew to love), then wandered into the city to see if I could navigate around without a. getting lost and b. relying on a map. Proud to say I pulled it off! This was my third time in Sydney, so I was really hoping I’d learn it better. I walked all the way from Surry Hills through the CBD to Circular Quay. Now as touristy as this place gets, I love it. It’s quiet, beautiful, and full of people-watching opportunities. AND HELLO, THE ROYAL FAMILY WAS INSIDE WHILE I WAS THERE. Also made a stop at Angel Place to get a nice photo of the bird cages (and there were actually some birds singing because the weather was so perfect). On the walk home, I got gelato because why not?

Thursday was just a beautiful, simple, and fun (check me out, loving the solo travel life) as the day before. I took my time walking into the city (this time with my DSLR to get some quality photos), looking at the Opera House from across the harbour (bridge side), sitting at Circular Quay looking at the bridge, watching the sunset behind the bridge, and then getting a phone call from my best friend in Sydney– which was beyond cool, because I’m used to phone calls from across the world. The subject of our phone call? Hanging out together (OMG). Real life can be pretty freaking awesome sometimes. Got dolled up- even dared to wear some bright pink lipstick, then met up with Blake and his friends. We had dinner at The Clock Hotel, drinks at Tios and Low 302, and then wound up at the casino. By the end of the night, I was so. in. love. with. Sydney. (And Blake and his friends of course). There’s nothing quite like staying out until dawn and walking through Darling Harbour in absolute silence as the city wakes up.

Took a much-needed day off on Friday. Who knew walking around endlessly for three weeks could actually make your feet too painful to walk on? Saturday was low-key, but I couldn’t say goodbye to Sydney without one last night out with Blake + co and seeing the bridge lit up from the Opera Bar/the Opera House from my favorite rooftop bar in the city, The Glenmore. SWEET HOME THE GLENMORE. I have some fond memories from this place and after a year of Blake sending me photos every time he was there, it was about time we hung out there together. On our walk back to Surry Hills, I dragged Blake to Angel Place (by accident) and was blown away by how hauntingly gorgeous the bird cages looked lit up at 2am. Thanks for sharing your friends with me, Blake. Now get yourself over to Chicago so you can stop calling me “America” and I can start calling you “Straya.”

Bittersweet. My last day in Sydney was Easter Sunday and I didn’t have my family there to spend it with me, so I spend my day at Bondi Beach. Yes, it’s another touristy spot. But I don’t have beaches like this at home. I don’t get to sit in the sand watching the waves roll in from the Pacific Ocean. With a free day to explore a new spot by myself, I had lunch at Gabby’s Cafe (I picked it because I was seriously missing my Gabby back home), walked along the shore, read some John Green, had some fruity sorbet, watched the sunset paint the sky along the horizon, and headed back to Surry Hills to pack up. I’m going to miss my little apartment in Surry Hills and all the great food spots in the area (I’ve got a new soft spot for Mr. Crackles and Mad Mex). And you can bet I’ll be back.

“23”: Updated (13/23 complete–including a trip to Australia)

1. Leave my job at IB

2. Get a new job (and love it)

3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation)I DID IT. I MADE IT BACK TO AUSTRALIA, TOOK A MONTH-LONG DREAM VACATION AND MANAGED TO CROSS OFF A LOT OF THIS LIST. I’M STILL IN DISBELIEF, BUT IT HAPPENED AND IT WAS AMAZING!

4. Meet and hang out with BlakeThis might be the one thing on my list I’m more excited about than the fact that I actually was in Australia. I’ve known Blake for a couple of years now and in that time, he’s become one of my best friends. We met on tumblr, so it’s been a dream of mine to meet my best-friend-across-the-world. We met and then eventually, we hung out— it was the best. Highlight of my week in Sydney, hands down.

5. Get my first tattoo (if I’m feeling brave- second and third as well)

6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again- without the anxiety this time

7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL)Ok, this one’s a stretch, but I did make it to Cali. Granted, it was just a layover at LAX. But I paid for the flights and I was there, so…. the “esp.” will just have to make it onto my next bucket list.

8. Get paid to write

9. Go on vacation with Amanda — Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!

10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most)

11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything.I went scuba diving on a total whim and it was the most unreal, thrilling 45 minutes of my life.

12. Learn something new

13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete)I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!

14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive wayI’ve been waiting to cross this one off, because it’s a big one. But between the people I met in Australia, my dear friend Blake, and the guy I dated for a few months, my life has been impacted in a positive way.

15. Impact someone’s life in a positive way

16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)Get this: triple whammy. I fell in love with my dive instructor in the Great Barrier Reef while scuba diving with him. Ok, mostly joking about that. But I did manage to fall in love with a place on my trip: Sydney. This city is beautiful and it was ridiculously hard to say goodbye.

17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment — SLOWLY WORKING ON IT!

18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled

19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!)

20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in MelbourneThis item is no longer possible, BUT I’m giving myself another exception here: I saw Hamish Blake IN REAL LIFE perform in a comedy show, which let’s be honest, was way more exciting for me than a soccer game would have been.

21. Do something for myselfI put all of my money into my trip to Australia and while it was a crazy thing to do financially, it was a gift to myself. I’ve been struggling to focus on where I want to head on my career path, so I took a month off to see what else is out there. My month abroad was SO different from the first time I traveled abroad alone. It was a new experience to explore on my own, create my own schedule, take a trip with strangers who became friends, and re-connect with old friends. It’s not about the money at all. It’s about the fact that I went on an actual adventure that has made me appreciate everything I have and everyone I know so much more than I did before. And now I feel more energized to figure out where I need to go from here.

22. Read a total of 23 books — WORKING ON IT!

23. Find a new favorite spot in Chicago

Updates
So many things on my list are pending right now (and I’m not going to say which ones exactly, but there are approx. 11). Here’s a little breakdown:

  • #3: I can’t believe I made it back to Australia. Unreal.
  • #5: I didn’t have time to fit in a tattoo on my trip, but I don’t see why I can’t man-up and get it done here before I turn 24!
  • #11: I had a fear of scuba diving, so I only signed up to snorkel on my trip. I’d be lying if I said the dive instructor who talked to me about the “Discovery Dive” didn’t play a part in my decision, but I’m SO glad I did it. My dive was 45 minutes long and we went ~10 metres deep. And I pet a turtle, so.
  • #14: I met SO many people on my trip that I lost track of where they all are from. Hearing how so many of them are still in their teens and are exploring Australia by working/traveling was so inspiring. I wish I’d had the guts to do that at 18!
  • #16: The Great Barrier Reef. Seriously. Amazing.
  • #22: I’m really working hard on this one and it’s coming along slowly, but I’m determined to read 23 books

I have so much adrenaline, simply from writing this post. If you’ve never written a bucket list, do it. Even if you give yourself a time limit like I did– it really pushes you to make changes, take chances, and find adventures as you go. Now it’s time to focus on what I need to accomplish in the next two months.

 

Sweet Home Melbourne

I’ve considered Melbourne my second home since 2011, when I spent six weeks studying abroad and loving every second of it. As a homebody, that was a huge deal– to feel like I was home. This is how I spent the rest of my week in Melbourne:

After my first day re-exploring Melbourne on my own (and catching up with Mitch), I was feeling SO ready to continue my adventure. I spent the next day hanging out with Sophie– seeing Divergent (yes, loved it the second time) and then driving to Flemington to stay in a hotel with her and some of her friends. It was a very chill evening, which got me pumped up for my next day of CBD exploring. The next night, I met up with Mitch in the city for dinner and a comedy show. Melbourne’s Comedy Festival is a pretty big deal, so of course I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see a show especially since one of my absolute favorite Aussie comedians would be in it. Hamish Blake himself. The next day, I packed up my things and headed to an apartment near Carlton/Fitzroy that I rented through Airbnb, then met up with Lauren in the city. We got to explore and wander around together– this time on my turf. Bonus? Lunch at Elephant And Wheelbarrow with Mitch. It was a blast to have these two goofs together with me in my favorite city.

After lunching, Lauren and I wandered to Fitzroy (my old stomping ground and hipster heaven), where we walked and shopped and I shared some of my favorite memories from a few years ago. Of course, our day wasn’t over yet. We headed back to our apartment to freshen up for a night on the town. First up: Cookie for Toblerones (God bless the bartender who knew what it was when I ordered it– think chocolate milkshake for adults). From there, it was on to Rooftop bar for some cider and a view of the city at night (my all-time favorite bar in Melbourne, I might add). The next day was a jam-packed one with a lot of things to cross off our list. After breakfast at the Pancake Parlour (or as Lauren referred to it, “heaven”), we accidentally ended up in Cotton On and did a little shopping. We roamed the city looking for graffiti, then met up with Sophie for lunch.

After lunching and chatting, we walked the Royal Botanic Gardens and saw the perfect view of downtown Melbourne from the Shrine of Remembrance (which is where Sophie and I had to say our goodbyes for this trip). Our list was looking pretty complete, so we headed back for dinner and ended up finding a really great gem called Trunk. Hello, best gnocchi in Australia. In an effort to say goodnight to our sister adventures in Melbourne, we headed to Rooftop one more time for a final cider and view of the city. The next day, Lauren was on her way back to Gold Coast and I had a rough day on my own in the city. I was really hoping I’d make it through my entire trip free of panic attacks, but that wasn’t what the universe had in mind. Looking back on the day is kind of a blur, but things settled when I met up with Mitch for a home-cooked meal and movie night. I’m really lucky to have this kid in my life. Even after crying about my panic attack, Mitch was on his A-game to get me pumped for my week ahead in Sydney (which, at that point, I was considering skipping). After lots of red wine, risotto, and comedy, I was ready.

Stay tuned to read up on my week in Sydney!

Quickie Travel Update!

Hello hello!

I wanted to check in and fill in anyone who is actually curious about my Australia adventures thus far. I landed here 2.5 weeks ago and have since visited: Melbourne, Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast, Sydney, Alice Springs, and Uluru. Yeah, just a few places. Since landing, I have: gotten a stellar sunburn, eaten too many Tim Tams, met one of my best friends from tumblr in real life, reunited with my sister (who has been studying here since January), reunited with my Melbourne friends, pushed myself to be a little more adventurous, and made a handful of friends from all over the globe. My bucket list is getting its ass kicked and I’m SO pumped about it.

I’ve only got about 9 days left and they’ll be spent between Melbourne and Sydney. Currently, I’m writing from Melbourne and I’m just about the happiest I’ve been in a long time. Never have I ever felt a connection with a city (aside from sweet home Chicago) the way I do with Melbourne. Second home without a second thought.

Yesterday, I had a free day to spend by myself in Melbourne’s CBD. As soon as I got off the train at Flinders St. Station and walked outside, I had a “catch my breath” moment in the most literal way– being back, seeing a familiar landscape, and knowing exactly where I was/where I wanted to head– beyond amazing feeling. Even more amazing feeling? Writing/reading in cafes all afternoon. Ok, I’ll leave you with that for now. It’s late and I have lots of adventures to cram in over the next week and a half.

TL;DR… Destination Australia: Part Two has been amazing and leaving this time around might be even more difficult than the first time. And the next visit will be a semi-permanent one. 

This lady is going back to Australia!

Yep, it’s happening… and it’s official! It’s been almost three years since I was last down under and if you ask me, that’s far too long (considering I refer to Australia as a second home of mine). Now that my international flights have been booked and I bonded with the Qantas customer service girl while secretly fangirling over her accent and the reality of what was happening, you might be wondering what I’ll be doing. I’ve got two big trips booked (Cairns & the Outback), plans to see Lauren in Gold Coast, plans to see Sophie and crew in Melbourne, and plans to see Blake in Sydney. Plus some assorted adventures like bridge climbing, a tattoo, a soccer game, and re-visiting old favorite places (maybe even finding new ones).

In a nutshell: four weeks, six cities, lots of friends, even more memories, and at least twice as many photos as my summer abroad.

I’ll be writing a post about the specifics of my trip as my departure date gets closer. Time to cross a lot of things off my “23” bucket list! In the mean time, here are a few of my favorite moments from my trip in 2011: