Simone Blanchard '12

Heed my warning, or else you will never want to leave!! Yes, I’m blogging only a few hours before my 20+ hour flight back to America and I’m starting to panic a little. I cannot believe I am actually leaving. It seems like just yesterday I anxiously arrived in Melbourne, not knowing whether to be excited or terrified. It’s funny to think that I was worried about being abroad for a year, and yet now, eleven months later, all I want is more time.

I can confidently say that my decision to study abroad in Australia has been the best decision I have ever made. I have had the most incredible experiences at college meeting new people and acclimating myself to a foreign environment. I have made lifelong friendships with the most wonderful people, something for which I am truly grateful. I have traveled to some of the most beautiful places in the world, exploring regions that I once thought  were intangible. I have fallen in love. And now I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to leave this country or the amazing people in it. I can only find comfort in the possibility of my return. That being said, while there is ‘no place like home’, I know in my heart that this will not be my last time in the magnificent land of Oz.

It’s SWOT VAC, aka the time when Melbourne Uni kids begin to panic about their approaching final exams, wishing that they had just gone to more  lectures during the semester, whose notes they will now be forced to learn on top of the revision that will be taking place during their inevitable cram session over the next week.

Me? I have 9,000+ words to complete by June 6th… 4 Essays worth a whopping 60% of my grade in each class… No pressure, right? Although, YAY for no exams, and finishing earlier than my peers, NAY for the essays being worth so much, and all being due on the same day!

After exhausting all other procrastination methods, checking email, facebook, regular mail, cleaning my room, organizing my closet, eating, and  making lists of things I still need to do for my essays- has resulted in my blogging. I do enjoy blogging, I am not the most consistent (clearly), but it’s a great way to relax, reminisce, and currently, a means of preventing my revision of one of my many assignments. I have to keep reminding myself of how close I am to being complete with my year abroad, which also has the ability to create some anxiety. But, I am going strong, 3 essays drafted and another awaits tomorrow…

That being said, I really must get back to writing essays…

So after realizing that I haven’t blogged in almost a month (terrible- I know!), I was not only only shocked, but couldn’t help but notice that time appears to have accelerated in the last few weeks! How is it May already?? Where has the time gone?? As I am now determined not to waste anymore of my precious, and now apparently fleeting time in Australia, I will give you a brief synopsis of all that has transpired in the last month….

As I mentioned in my last post, the company I have been interning with, Villawood Properties, had joined forces with contractors of the Henley group and the Good Friday Appeal to auction a house whose proceeds would benefit the Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital. The event was a success raising $610,000 (AUD) for the Children’s Hospital and exceeding $10 million (AUD) in total donations over the last 18 years!

SOLD! For $610,000!

In the past month, I have also assisted with the organization of  Villawood’s family fun day at their Estuary community in Leopold, Geelong. The event included a complimentary bbq for the community, face painters, balloon artists, a bounce house, a clown playing a ukulele on stilts, and featured a dry boat regatta. The dry boat regatta was a 250 meter race in which participants must construct and run with their boat in teams of six. Leopold Primary School took the 1st place prize of $1000(AUD) and were also awarded an additional $250 (AUD) for having the “best presented boat”. In all, the day was a success, and I was glad to have been able to give back to the community of Leopold.

Leopold Primary School and their boat, "The Spirit of Leopold"

As for Uni, as I’ve said before, time is flying by! It is now the last week of University and I have four major assignments due in 2 weeks!! Yes, 9,000 words stands between me and my completion of my year studying abroad…the very thought makes my stomach churn. :/ BUT, I have gotten off to a pretty good start, and am feeling confident!

College is still awesome, and we have had several events in the past month worthy of mention. Rowing Day was on 5/14 and Newman College placed 3rd in the regatta! It was a glorious day for Newman rowing, who openly admit that rowing isn’t their stongest sport, as all of our teams did very well. I rowed for the Women’s Firsts team which came first in the B final (wooo!!!) beating both Trinity College and St. Hilda’s College. Also, recently we had our annual college boat cruise down the Yarra river. It was great fun, and everyone came dressed in the nines in this year’s theme of “jungle fever”. Lastly, the event of the semester, the Newman College Ball, was spanish themed, featuring flamenco dancers, churros with chocolate fountains, and hundreds of Newman’s finest dancing the night away!

Women's Firsts Boat

Jungle Fever Cruise!

All dolled-up at Newman Ball

Lastly, I have not been able to travel as much as I would like, but I was fortunate enough to get the chance to explore the Great Ocean Road during Easter Break. The Great Ocean Road is an iconic drive along the coast beginning in Torquay and finishing in Allansford, which takes approximately 4 hours to drive without stopping. I, on the other hand, began in Torquay and ended at the 12 Apostles in Port Campbell, cutting my GORA ( or Great Ocean Road Adventure) a little short. None-the-less, it was a fabulous journey along the coast with stunning views of the ocean and the majestic rocks that form the 12 Apostles.

Rules of the Road!

12 Apostles at Dusk

Hey All!

Just a few updates!!

1. My internship is going well! We just had our Good Friday Appeal benefit auction and raised $610,000 for the Royal Melbourne Children Hospital.

2. Uni is FLYING by… it’s already past week 8 of 12!

3. College is great, getting ready for the upcoming ball (yay!).

4. Easter has just passed and I feel ill from all of the chocolate I ate :/

5. Rowing at College has also begun, which is a good way to work off all of the aforementioned chocolate.

6. I will be back in America in LESS than two months! ( I am still in shock at how quick time flew by)

7.  Now that I am on Easter break, I will be exploring the Great Ocean Road, and will have a better post for next week with many new photos!

I hope everyone had a phenomenal Easter!

Greetings ALL! Sorry I have been MIA! I’ve been very busy with Uni & my internship! This past week was heaps of fun because I spent my entire weekend at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show! There were hundreds of vendors and tons of activities for  families.

While at the show, I was responsible for familiarizing show-goers with Villawood, but more importantly, stressing our support and sponsorship for our favorite artists from Kooper Tasmania.

Folko and his wife Maureen create amazing pieces of art, and I was very fortunate to view a very small selection of their work while at the show. They use materials such as stainless steel, bronze, glass, and sandstone. I was most impressed by their sculptures made out of steel, which were mostly of birds. Not only are Folko and Maureen  genuinely talented, but they are also very lovely people. It was a great pleasure to have the opportunity to meet them and show support for their work.

Steal Bird by Kooper Tasmania


More Info about the Artists:

More Info about the Show:

Yes! I have done it! I have acquired a position as an intern! I am currently interning with a property development company, Villawood Properties in Melbourne, as an intern in their PR/ Event Planning division. Needless to say I am quite thrilled about my internship. As my first day approached, I prepared myself for the possibilities of endless coffee runs and being the recipient of all the grunt work, but, to my surprise, it was nothing like that. Not only are my bosses fabulous, but they actually care about me as a worker. Now, I am in no way shape or form saying previous bosses have dismissed me, but I think going off what I’ve seen in movies, and the depiction of the torture interns have to endure, I was very misinformed. It is only my second week as an intern, but I am genuinely enjoying it, and cannot wait to see what’s in store.

Yes, Apple has taken Oz by storm… You cannot go anywhere in Melbourne without seeing someone on their iphone or playing games on their ipad. I was riding the tram today and noticed that about 85% of the people around me had an iphone. Also, while walking through Uni almost everyone I saw had an Apple computer.  This post really has no significant point nor does it reveal a profound truth , I just found it interesting/amazing to see how a brand can transform into a culture.

Supporting evidence:

I am once again back to the hustle and bustle of busy Uni life, and New Zealand is starting to feel like a distant memory… I had such an amazing time while in the land of the kiwis. I traveled  the North and South island for 17 days and had the most amazing experience of my life. My friend Tina (fellow Crusader) and I started at the top of the South island working our way further south all the way to Queenstown, and then up to Auckland in the North Island. While in New Zealand I went swimming with hundreds of wild dolphins, bungee jumped 440 feet on Australasia’s highest bungee, hiked a glacier, climbed an active volcano, and went skydiving from 15,ooo feet. Not only was my NZ itinerary full of fun activities, but I was also able to view some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. When I wasn’t sight seeing and jumping out of planes I was making tons of new friends from all over the world on the Kiwi Experience bus. It was incredible. Or as the kiwis say, it was “sweet as bro”!

Dusky Dolphins in Kaikoura

Volcano Hike

Glacier Hike

South Island

Bungee Jumping

Skydiving 15,000 feet

Kia Ora! Or if you don’t speak Māori, the language of the New Zealand natives, Hi! (Kia Ora is similar to “Aloha” in that it is used for both “hello” and “goodbye”) I am currently traveling around New Zealand with the very popular Kiwi Experience Tour Bus company. I’m having the time of my life going from city to city and hostel hopping. I have met so many wonderful people while traveling both on and off the bus. Fellow crusader Santina and I started our NZ adventure in the South Island and will conclude our travels in the North Island. Unfortunately, due to internet inaccessibility, I will not be able to post a detailed post whilst here. The minute I get back to Melbourne I’ll be sure to post a detailed itinerary with tons of photos. Till then, take care and Kia Ora!

As I had mentioned in my previous blog, Wilsons Promontory was rich with Aussie wildlife including kangaroos, wombats, wallabies, and possums. In order to get a glimpse of the surrounding critters, my friends and I decided to take a late night wildlife walk where we came upon many of the aforementioned animals, and to my friends and I’s surprise, we even spotted a deer. All of the Aussies in the group gasped “A deer!” and I sat there momentarily stunned until remembering that deers are uncommon here. It was a great time looking for native creatures, and I was determined to snap a photo of a wombat (which are probably my favorite, next to koalas). It was at the end of the walk that we finally spotted a wombat and like a tourist, I whipped out my camera…


Wombat "hiding" from our cameras

Up close and personal

Finally snapped a photo of the wombat