My Journey Down Under

Ashley Garrett

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Spring Break.  Two weeks of relaxation, travelling, and tanning. (Unless you stayed in New Jersey, where there was yet another snow storm.)  As most of you know, this year’s school Spring Break trip was to New Zealand and Australia, and I was fortunate enough to attend.  I can honestly say it was the most amazing trip of my life. Australia has been my dream trip since I was a little kid, and the trip surpassed my expectations.  Aside from the amazing accents and delicious Tim-Tam cookies, I was able to have so many incredible experiences in only 12 short days. I am currently sitting in my bed at 3 in the morning, suffering from awful jet lag and regretting the fact that I did not keep a travel journal.  Having nobody to talk to and nothing better to do, I have decided to document my memories here for your reading pleasure. If you have not attended a Saint Elizabeth’s school trip, I hope this article inspires you to do so.

First, we traveled to New Zealand.  I know what you’re probably thinking.  Yes, the flight is very long, but it is 110% worth it.  New Zealand was absolutely breathtaking.  I had never before seen grass that was so green and landscapes that were so scenic.  There were mountains, geysers, lakes, animals, you name it. As we explored the beautiful scenery, my classmates and I were able to learn about the Maori tribes in New Zealand.  These native people and their culture were fascinating. After touring their village and enjoying a traditional Hangi feast, I gained a new appreciation of foreign cultures.

In Rotorua, New Zealand, I was able to experience my favorite part of the trip: Velocity Valley.  Velocity Valley is basically an amusement park for adrenaline junkies. There is swooping (I’ll explain in a second), super fast jet boats, and skydiving simulations.  The Swoop is essentially a bungee jump, but the cord is attached to a sleeping-bag-like contraption instead of your ankle. There are no helmets; just yourself in a bag, falling face first from 40 meters in the air and coming within 3 feet of the concrete ground.  Naturally, I had to try it. As soon as I got to the top, I instantly regretted my decision, but there was only one way down. As I fell to what I thought was my death, I realized that I was actually enjoying myself. I had never been so scared, happy, and excited all at once.

From New Zealand we went to Sydney, Australia.  There, I was able to pet kangaroos and koalas, tour the world-renowned Sydney Opera House, and take a surfing lesson at Manly Beach.  Sydney is the whole package. It’s a city, but with beaches. There are skyscrapers, bridges, palm trees, and cockatoos. People say that it’s like an American city, but I personally liked the aspects that made it different from American cities, like the marinas at Darling Harbor.

For the last part of the trip, we flew to Cairns, Australia.  Cairns is a tropical town, and it is home of the Great Barrier Reef.  While the boat ride to the Great Barrier Reef was a little rough for me and my seasickness, the snorkeling at the Reef was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.  For the rest of the time in Cairns, everyone had free time to relax, shop, and swim in the lagoon (we could not swim at the beaches due to crocodiles in the water). On our last day, we even had the opportunity to hold a koala!!

In case you couldn’t already tell, I loved my Spring Break.  My time in “The Land Down Under” was so amazing, that I am not even bothered by my total lack of sleep due to the jet lag.  Okay, maybe that last part is a lie…but seriously the trip was worth it. In addition to all of the things I learned and laughs I had, I gained so much from this trip.  As a Saint E’s student, I was able to get to know some of my classmates that I hadn’t really spoken to, and now I have some great new friends. As a person, I realized that I can leave my home and family for 12 days, and more importantly I can survive.  As a dessert-enthusiast, I realized that Australian cookies and chocolate are soooo much better than the American versions and that we really need to step up our game. As Oprah Winfrey said, a trip to New Zealand “should be on your bucket list,” and I feel the same way about Australia.  I hope that one day I will be able to return to my new favorite places.

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