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17 April 2015

I have been familiar with Sydney since forever. Being a daughter of a opera enthusiast mother I have also been familiar with the Sydney opera house aka cloud castle of dreams {as I used to see it}. This city was definitely in my top three places to visit so you can believe when I say there's no words to describe the feeling when I finally got off the train and saw the opera house across the street. They may say the world isn't a wish-granting factory. Well, I think no one mentioned Australia.

I arrived on an apparently relatively warm Tuesday and got picked up from the airport by my Sydney host family. The daughter of this family, 19 year old Rebekah 'served' as my guide during my stay. First we got to tick off my primary reason traveling to Sydney: an amazing tour in the opera house. I was very surprised to find out the building has been designed by a Danish architect selected by a Finnish architect. Also the size of the house and materials used for its white surface were something totally different I had imagined. It appears this gorgeous piece of architecture is much smaller than often thought.

I really recommend to do the tour if you are interested even the tiniest bit. Seeing multiple performing halls and even a few rehearsals in addition to a great tour guide I'd say it was great worth the money.

In the afternoon we walked around the very centre of Sydney and found our way to Marimekko's Sydney store. Marimekko is a Finnish high-end designer brand. If you've ever met anyone from Finland you've probably heard of this or seen the signature flower pattern. Practically it's a huge part of Finnish identification, at least for me. As soon as I ran in I felt like home.
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16 April 2015

The first Saturday of our school holidays was the day of Movie World's Carnival. Nat took me and Julia to see and experience this phenomenal event. She was kind enough to take loads of pictures for me whilst myself and Julia went to all of the rides. We fell in love with the superman ride and went to it three times in total.

The music, the actual carnivale, the food and the performers were just beautiful. When we walked in the gates it really was like stepping to another world. In a nutshell it was a very successful and fun night plus well worth the cost.
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15 April 2015

WHEN? I will be leaving on Sunday the 26th of April and I’ll arrive to Helsinki on Tuesday morning, the 28th. That means about 10 days to go.

WHAT'S ON MY TRAVEL AGENDA? Brisbane - Melbourne (2h45min) - Singapore (9h10min) - Helsinki (13h10min), altogether 25h05min flying, altogether 50h45min including stops. I am so excited I have an opportunity to see Melbourne even though it’s only for couple of hours. At least I can say I’ve been there afterwards. I’m staying in Melbourne overnight and on the following days I’m heading to Singapore with a decent nine hour flight. After a five and half hour stop I’ll jump to a plane again and suffer for those very terrifying 13 hours. And let me reming you, I’m seriously not able to sleep in any transportation.

HOW DO I FEEL? I am beyond excited about going back home to my family and friends and the life I know the best. I deal good byes well… actually I don’t really deal with them. For me saying good bye is just words, empty words. For some reason the fact that I’m going to ‘lose’ someone just doesn’t sink in to my consciousness. So I’m doing well on farewell-wise. Going back feels very unreal. It feels even more unreal than leaving in the first place. To be completely honest, I am scared of going back because I think I know what’s waiting over there but I’m scared I’m gonna be wrong and nothing’s like I used to know it.

WHAT AM I EXPECTING TO HAPPEN ONCE I ARRIVE HOME? I expect things to be to same which is a silly expectation because I know that’s not gonna happen. Things are going to be different and it’s me who has to adjust in again. I will find it difficult to speak my own language full time. I will question everything. I will turn 18 which practically means I am expected to be a grown up. I am expected to learn how to drive a car {and I really want to} and deal with things by myself {which is what I’ve been doing for the past nine months}. I am expected to know a lot and be able to tell what these months have been like. Yeah, like that’s going to happen any time soon. This is a lot to take in and it takes a while to digest even a small part of this experience. But then life will go on and it’s going to feel like I never left.

AM I PANICKING OR AM I EXCITED TO GO? I am very excited about going. And then comes a moment when I would want to stay and forget about the other life I used to have. I often say I’d stay here for the rest of my life if I could bring my family and friends over from Finland and New Zealand. Lucky me, the world is getting smaller and smaller because of internet. Having your friends in the other end of the line and actually seeing them on the screen is still not the same as actually being with them but it’s still one helluva great invention, Skype I mean. Also, as I told earlier, I don’t do this thing called good byes: wether I know I’m going to see them again or not my brain simply doesn’t understand ‘this is it’. 

As another exchange student stated: I am just mentally extremely exhausted but it was worth it.
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12 April 2015

This is coming from a person who consciously avoids any sort of exercise: I walked the whole day and it was worth it. Obviously walking isn't seen as the most effective exercise but as an exchange student who has eaten way too much compared to how much exercise she has done - yeah, it was pretty effective, and tiring. But it was worth it because of the landscapes and the photos.

This beautiful place I'm introducing you to is a subtropic rainforest area called Tamborine. This gorgeous piece of nature is located just an hour south from Brisbane. I was more than pleased when I opened the car door and instead of boiling hot air I felt a gentle cool breeze on my face. It is so much cooler up on the mountains so I highly recommend to take a break from the oven {aka coast} and cool down for a day.

Nat had spotted the Natural Bridge down in Springbrook National Park so that was our first stop. It's a magical place: a waterfall behind a natural rock bridge. It is away from the other world. I wouldn't have been surprised if I had seen some fairies there {in addition to myself and Nat of course}.

During the day we drove around Tamborine Mountain which has many natural parks, shops, restaurants and even an adventure park not to forget about a natural pool under a waterfall hidden in the forest.
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11 April 2015

As much as I want to deny it I have to admit the life of an exchange student is pretty much a never ending holiday. We do study but that is just a tiny fraction of the full experience. I consider myself very lucky to have a host family who are eager to show me more than enough of this wonderful country. A couple of weeks ago I visited Stradbroke island twice: once with my school's international students and the second time with Nat, Melissa and Julia. It was a perfect day with the perfect company.

We left at a decent time and took the ferry to the island. Melissa is a former resident of Straddie so she showed us the tourist attractions as well as some hidden gems. Having prawns for lunch and sitting on a rock watching the sea made me think how wonderful life is. 

Later on we attempted to surf - myself and Julia aren't mastering the small surf boards just yet. I never used to swear, especially in Finnish but whilst fighting with the surf board {which was honestly punching me} I may or may not have cursed quite a bit. Luckily no one else speaks Finnish over here so they had no idea I was sinning.

After I had recovered this physically and mentally exhausting hour or two of surfing we drove to Cylinder Beach to once again see an oh-so-beautiful sunset.
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