Travelling Without Connections: Part 1

My victory dance when I activated my American SIM.
Time seems to drag ever so slowly when one has nothing to do. I’ve discovered that this also goes for when one lacks a connection to the Internet. During the planning stages of this project, I was sure that I had spent over a week in America without a SIM card in my phone – and thus without a guaranteed connection to the Internet.

I unearthed my folder of American adventures – a plastic sleeve of all the documents I’ve accrued from my exchange. I happened to have kept the receipt from AT&T from when I bought my SIM. It’s dated as the 19th of August. I arrived in America on the 15th of August. Though I could have sworn I had suffered longer under the stress of not being connected, it was only for four short days. How could I have been so wrong? Was it that my mum’s constant nagging about getting a SIM card seemed to have gone on for a longer period of time? Did the lack of available WiFi so distinctly affect me that my memories are distorted?

My generation is used to having access to the Internet 24/7. In terms of travel, almost a third of Gen Y uses only the Internet to plan their holidays and adventures. We’re more flexible in our plans and travels, as well (Kim et al. 2015). But as a result, we experience anxiety when we are without an Internet connection. I felt this stress very soon after landing at LAX: the LAX airport WiFi wouldn’t let me FaceTime my parents, and texts weren’t guaranteed to go through without me re-sending them several times. I broke out in a cold sweat when I realised I couldn’t immediately reach my parents to let them know that my plane had landed. My British friend Amelia, who I met on exchange at UNC, also experienced this – twice at two different airports – and describes the scary feeling she got when realising she couldn’t easily contact anyone.

And so for the next few blog posts, I will strive to tell more of the highs and lows connecting to how we as Gen Y deal when we lack connections during travel. Telling it through this blog is an obvious choice for me – my entire travel experience is laid out here, neatly categorised, easily available for further reading and references. Along with this reasoning, the best way to tell this sort of story is through the use of a blog. Blogging has grown popular and is easily accessible; book publishers have even started experimenting with digital storytelling with great success. Meg Cabot’s The Boy Next Door, published in 2002, is written in the format of emails. The use of a digital platform such as a blog enables its creator to look back at their work, giving them a definitive record which can’t be lost (Kirk & Pitches 2013).

Kim, H, Xiang, Z & Fesenmaier, D 2015, ‘Use of the Internet for Trip Planning: a Generational Analysis’, Journal of Travel & Tourism, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 276-289.

Kirk, C, & Pitches, J 2013, ‘Digital reflection: using digital technologies to enhance and embed creative processes’, Technology, Pedagogy & Education, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 213-230.

UNC’s Ten Best Memories

Spoiler: this is not one of them

This blog is the closest to a journal/diary of exchange that I’ve kept, and I just need to share my most cherished memories of UNC and exchange because I can’t stand to forget them. I feel like I’ve written about quite a lot of my experiences but there are still some that I haven’t put down in words or some that I hadn’t even realised were important to me until I browsed through photos and amazing memories were brought back. Continue reading

When It’s Time to Go

da endOn the eve of my journey home to Australia, I’m feeling relieved and overwhelmed. The past fortnight I’ve been ridiculously homesick and just wishing to be back on my homeland and hear the familiar and comforting Aussie accents. It’s not that my time in America has been awful, but it’s time for me to make my way home because I’ve realised that no matter how many grouches I have with Australia, it’ll always be my home and I’ll always want to return.

The past five months have been incredible for me and I have so many memories I want to cherish and never let go of. I’ve tried to preserve some of them within this blog, but there are so many things that this blog can’t be privy to and I’ll have to attempt to sear every second of my exchange trip into my head. Even the bad bits!

I have one thing to say to everyone that I’ve met on my travels and every single new and precious friend I’ve made: thank you so much for making this trip the best thing I ever did. Thank you all so much for befriending the girl with the constant resting bitch face and thank you so much for being so hospitable and hilarious and generous. 😍😚😌💋

Representing UOW felt awesome, my love for my uni has only grown.
Some statistics:

  • 4: number of times I cried
  • 50+: new friends I made
  • maybe 5: arguments I had with my roommate
  • 7: amazing strangers that I now know as my suitemates that made my life so much better
  • 8: US states I’ve been to
  • 100+: phonecalls made to my family
  • 7: flights I’ve been on
  • 12: suitcases I’ll need to bring all my stuff home (jks)
  • 1: major travel bug that’s bitten me
  • 0: regrets

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My First (And Probably Last) Thanksgiving

1450I decided to go on exchange in the autumn semester for a few reasons, many of them being the holidays that America celebrates that us Aussies never get quite as excited about. Halloween (on Facebook, someone posted how they wished Halloween was illegal in Australia??), Thanksgiving (for obvious reasons), and Christmas (we do celebrate it but commercially America stomps on us). So it was awesome being able to spend Thanksgiving with an actual American family rather than being stuck in my dorm all week sulking. I have to thank my suitemate Jordan for the invite, and I’m ridiculously grateful because I had such a great time. Continue reading

Doing Stuff By Yourself – And Why It’s Not Bad

987The comfort and security of having friends around you is great, but what happens when those friends aren’t there, or they’re not interested in going to this or that event that you so badly want to go to? Do you resign yourself to a night spent re-reading a book in bed and hoping the DVD comes out soon? Nuh-uh! You go do that thing by yourself. And doing that thing alone isn’t as painful as it may seem to be. Continue reading

Yosemite, the Before and After

Bay Bridge in San Francisco.

I decided to make my Yosemite adventures a two-part blog post because there is so much stuff apart from the park, a few little adventures I couldn’t keep to myself. Yosemite was a trip of a lifetime for several reasons: the flurry of travelling; helping me become more independent; crossing off an item on my bucket list; and all the little things that happened outside of Yosemite. Continue reading

Australian vs American Culture, Young Adult Edition


Despite having watched and read a millions books and movie set in the US, some of the habits and goings-on here shock me. Others I love. Some I wish would burn in hell. Sometimes I want to go back home to my fellow Aussies and embrace the Tim Tams and familiar accents. Below is a list of cultural differences that I’ve noticed.

Continue reading

30 Days and 30 Nights

Oh UOW, how you call to me!

Tomorrow marks the one month anniversary that I’ve been here at UNC and I can say that I’ve finally settled into a routine. Some things that aren’t yet a routine:

  • cleaning my dishes on time
  • homework (hello, realisation at 1am that I’ve got Russian HW due)
  • reading for Classical Mythology (so, so much, in the poetry form that I loathe)

Continue reading

There Are Just Some Things…

IMG_4681As I’m typing this, we’re very close to a storm and it’s been sprinkling on and off here at Chapel Hill. The weather so far has been so hot and humid (above 30C every day for the past 3 weeks, no lie) with very little rain, so I’m super keen for it to rain as the place can be a bit refreshed. I love this heat and super glad that I didn’t miss it (two summers this year, wooo) but man I need a break! Continue reading