Posted by: nat5066 | January 7, 2013

Coming Home…

It has been quite some time since I have last posted anything on here.  I’m not sure if anyone will even see this post… but…

After my last post, I finished up my finals and did very well in all my classes- yes I passed them all!  After my finals were done, I spent a few days in Cairns to snorkel and scuba-dive the Great Barrier Reef with Janelle.  It was by far one of the best things I did on my trip.  I will post pictures soon!

It was very hard to say goodbye to the many friends I had made along my travels, we even shed some tears!   It was especially hard to say goodbye to Janelle, Loraine, Jade and Courtney.  The five of us spent lots of time together!  We all still communicate via facebook and skype.  I even received a Christmas card from Loraine that was all in Dutch!

I just want to thank everyone for reading my blogs, sending me letters in the mail, encouraging me and all the support.  It truly was an adventure of a lifetime and I hope that all of you got to live a little bit through me!

Once I said goodbye to my last buddy, Loraine, I finished packing my bags and said goodbye to my little room with it’s Thrower Green walls and my VERY comfy bed.  It was an early morning cab ride to the airport where my journey home began.  I flew from Canberra – Sydney – LA – Dallas – Pittsburgh.  I arrived home on Thanksgiving evening around 6pm.  I was so tired and hungry that all I could think about was eating some mashed potatoes and turkey (that I didn’t have to cook!) and going to bed.  I called my Mom to find where her my Dad and Matt were waiting.  My stomach was turning as I walked down the halls and down the last escalator.  This is the moment I had been waiting for, for over 4 months!

The first person I saw was my Mom, she came towards me holding a bouquet of flowers.  With tears in both of our eyes, we gave each other a big hug!  Anyone who knows me knows that my Mom is far more than a mom- a best friend, role model, biggest fan, supporter and believer in me.  My Dad was the next one!  He gave me a big slap on the back and huge hug and said the my favorite words “Hi Nic Nic”.  Big Matt was the next, he had a big smile… if anyone knows Matt it is the big Matty-Matt smile!  Matt was so good throughout this whole time.  I honestly could not ask for anyone better to have supported me or to be so happy for me!  IT WAS SO GOOD TO SEE THEM!

The four of us headed to my Grandparents to eat come food were I got to see Katie and then Brad later on.  The next day I  knew I was home… there I was in Dad’s front yard chasing a goat around with Brad that got out- welcome home!  Saturday we all headed to camp for the first day of rifle and on Monday I was sitting in the woods with my Dad enjoying the simple things in life!

I feel like I have so much to say, and many will never even read this, but it is a great way to document my journey and all the things I want to remember!  Thank you to every single person who read this blog, commented on it and sent your love!  I appreciate it so much and I have learned so much from this experience.   I love sharing my stories and talking to everyone about this!  As they say down under, No Worries 🙂

Posted by: nat5066 | November 13, 2012

School work… not play time!

Believe it or not I have actually worked very hard this semester.  Although my pictures and stories about all the fun activities and places I have been don’t seem like I have very much time for school work, my weekly schedule was full with the 4 classes I was enrolled in.  I took social marketing, cross-cultural management, international marketing and dynamics of Asian businesses.  They were all very interesting and for the most part I enjoyed my lectures.  The school I am attending, ANU-Australian National University,  is ranked #27 in the world… what was I thinking?  No one told me that!

For international marketing 50% of our semester grade revolved around working for a real client here in Canberra and developing an international marketing plan for the company to implement into a foreign country.  My teammates and I worked extremely hard for 12 weeks to develop a plan for our client, Blended Learning International (BLI).  BLI is located right here in Canberra and they offer higher executive training programs to companies along the lines of IT programs and management training.  I was on a team that was composed of 5 people who were all from different countries- Australia, Netherlands, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

It was a great experience, but I am so glad all the hard work was over.  To give you an idea how big this project was we had weekly meetings with our client, presented in front of their bored of directors and was recognized by the university.  My team created a plan for BLI to enter the Malaysian market with their IT programs.  In a nut-shell my team came second place.  There was 5 teams working for BLI, so to come in second is pretty good I think!

Proof that I did school work while here!

Well, I have finished 2 finals and I only have one more to go!  Today I discovered that McDonalds sells mini ice cream cones for $0.30 YES 30 CENTS… perhaps the cheapest thing in Australia!!!   This Sunday I am leaving for the Great Barrier Reef with my friend Janelle (It really is a hard life here).  I come back to Canberra on Wednesday and then Thursday morning I make my long journey home… traveling from Canberra-Sydney-LA-Dallas and then watch out… I will be back in good old’ Saxonburg!  Not for long though, I have a 2 week date with the woods to find Bambi’s Dad.

Let me know if there is anything else you would like to know about Australia!  I would happy to answer any questions!

I am looking forward to:

1.  Family & Friends

2.  My horse

3.  Home cooked meals from my Mom… and eating Al’s food at the Hotel

4.  My own bed

5.  Taking a bubble bath

6.  A peanut butter cup blizzard from DQ

7.  Driving my car


Posted by: nat5066 | November 9, 2012

Queenstown New Zealand

This day was by far one of the highlights of my whole time abroad.

I hope you enjoy these pictures and can laugh at my funny faces!  I also have a video of my whole experience jumping out of a plane that was 12,000 ft in the air… but that will have to wait until I get home 🙂

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New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world, and as you can see from the photos I had to make my time here memorable!  Besides from jumping out of a plane, we also had fun riding the gondola up the mountain to ride the ‘luge’.  The ‘luge’ reminds me of goat-carts, but they have no motor and simply are controlled with a steering wheel as you fly down the montain on the race tracks!  It was so much fun to do this with the girls!  Here are some pictures!

Chanelle and I on the gondola going up!

Us girls riding the luge!

The luge track going down the mountain!

Not a bad view

Posted by: nat5066 | November 9, 2012

New Zealand

I thought I had experienced an amazing place while being in Australia for 4 months, but that is before I visited New Zealand.  This is truly God’s country.  I have so much to tell and to share, but I will try to sum it up here and tell you more when I get home!

What inspired me to travel to New Zealand was from one of my Dad’s friends back home in Saxonburg.  I saw some of Mr. Thrower’s pictures from his hunting trip to New Zealand of the deer walking away from him towards these huge beautiful snow capped mountains… and I thought if I could ever make it to that side of the world that is the place for me!  Well, coming to Australia made that dream become a reality.  New Zealand is made up of 2 islands… the North and South Island.  From Sydney it is a 3 hour flight to Christchurch in the South Island.  I worked with a travel agent to find a tour that would fit in between the end of the time my classes were done and before my finals started… and we found the perfect one!

My tour was a 6 day adventure of the South Island.  I flew into Christchurch, and if many of you remember 2 years ago there was a massive earthquake that destroyed Christchurch.  There were actually 2 earthquakes and there are many shocks that happen daily from it.  Such a horrible tragedy  and staying here at the beginning and end of my trip it was incredible to see what it has done.  The shopping centre was destroyed and now stores are in metal truck trailers (not sure how to describe this..)  Buildings are being constructed  roads are being redesigned and the whole community is just trying to find it’s feet again.  If I would have had more time I would have taken an hour bus tour of the city which explained everything that happened.


Onto the trip!…

Our tour group had only 11 people on it!  We had 2 tour guides that were phenominal.  They had so much knowledge and information to share with us and had an answer to every questions I had… and I had a lot!  I really enjoyed this trip so much, and honestly I think I enjoyed it more than being in Australia sometimes!  The farm country and mountains just felt like my element.  The amount of sheep farms were amazing.  Every piece of ground was fenced in… and these pastures were huge… hundreds and hundreds of acres.  There were some cattle farms and deer farms, but New Zealand is dominated by lamb.  A lot of the lamb is exported to Germany.  I ate some delicious lamb here too… and this is coming from a girl who doesn’t really prefer lamb!

Ok… so your probably asking yourself what I did in New Zealand or what makes this place soooo great?  Well, let me just show you some of my pictures and you can guess why I LOVE this place so much!

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We visited many places on our 6 day tour of the Southern Island.  We learned all about glaciers and the history of the land.  We hiked Fox Glacier, enjoyed Queenstown-the adventure capital of the world!, spent a night on a boat in Milford Sound and took a farm tour of a local sheep farm.  The scenery and all the little stops and people along the way made this trip even more special.  I hope you enjoyed some of those pictures, and I have lots more to share when I get home.  My next post will be about my exciting adventure filled days in Queenstown… where I went skydiving!


Posted by: nat5066 | November 8, 2012

Finals Time!

My trip to New Zealand was absolutely AMAZING.  I have so much to tell!  I have three finals coming up, but I will try to make a couple posts to tell you about my trip!

I came back last night and to my surprise I had 4 letters waiting for me!  I felt so loved!  I just wanted to say thank you to Lauren, Katie, Al and Me-Me for writing to me.  It is so nice to receive them and so thoughtful!


Posted by: nat5066 | October 29, 2012

Chocolate, Cocktails & Sunshine


This past week consisted of lots of papers and presentations… so… what a great way to celebrate all of that being over with some …

Chocolate & cocktails…. sounded perfect to us!

I wish I had words for how delicious this hot chocolate was!

My cocktail was called “all I really want” and it was very yummy!

After I consumed lots of chocolate and some drinks (no worries only had ONE when they are $15!!!) we decided it was time to hike Blake Mountain.  I took a couple pictures to show you how gorgeous it is getting here.

This is right on campus.

Everything is so green and all the flowers are coming out too!

Well… not too much to fill you all in on.  I am sick of cooking and can’t wait to eat tons of good food from my Mom and the Hotel.  They celebrate Halloween over here, but nothing like that states.  I don’t think kids trick-or-treat, but I did see some people dressed up to go out to the bars this weekend.  Christmas trees and decorations are now in the Target here… it is very weird to see all of that and it being 70-75 degrees out!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me a card or letter in the mail.  It truly makes my day, if not week!  I can’t wait to get home to show you all my pictures and tell you my stories!

I leave for New Zealand on Thursday for my week tour of the South Island!  Stay tuned for my adventures… New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world…hmmm….the possibilities are endless!

Cheers 🙂  Nicki

Posted by: nat5066 | October 22, 2012

Spring Time

The sunshine is shinning and the days are starting to get nicer and nicer.  It has been in the 70’s lately, and on a really nice day closer to 75 and 80 out!  You can definitely tell the sun is a lot hotter over here.  (Don’t worry Grandma, I am putting sun screen on.)

If you remember my pictures from the very beginning of what campus looked like, you will appreciate these photos now!

I walk this everyday. This is the main path that leads to the student court.

Here is another picture of the 4 girls I become very close to here.

Loraine from the Netherlands, Jade from England, Courtney from Seattle and Janelle from Canada

This week I am just finishing off and submitting three papers and presenting a group project.  I can’t wait for the weekend to relax!  Countdown for New Zealand: 9 days!

Posted by: nat5066 | October 18, 2012

Time flys by!

I thought my blog needed a new look, so I hope you like it!  The picture at the top of the page is from the Great Ocean Road when Katie came to visit me!

My family told me that they couldn’t leave comments on here, but I think I have fixed that!

Please let me know if you have any questions about the Aussie Life or are just wondering about something!  I would be happy to make a post for you!

For now, I wanted to share a little video of where I will be headed in exactly 2 weeks from today!!!


Time is really flying by here!  I am savoring every moment!

Cheers, Mate!

Posted by: nat5066 | October 16, 2012

Pittsburgh Pride in the Land Down Under!

Well, this past week has been pretty boring.  I mean I did come over here for school… remember?!

I wanted to share with you something that you probably already know…


-The very first class I had here, I sat down in my seat and the boy next to me had a Steeler’s hoodie on!  I was so surprised!  Before I left to come here people told me I would see Steeler fans over here, but I didn’t expect them to be sitting next to me in class!  It was a good thing to see tho on my first day of class!

-When Katie came to visit me (I wish she was still here!) we were walking to the Sydney Opera House.  On our way there was a man standing at a ticket booth selling tickets for boat rides across the harbor   Sure enough, he was wearing a Pens hat!  Katie and I stopped and asked if he liked them… his response… HELL YA!  I think he even got more excited when we told him we were from there!

-After the first week of classes the resident hall I am staying in hosted a dinner for us.  It was a great way to meet some of the people I am living with.  At my table I started talking to a girl (I forget her name…opps!) and she told me she had just applied to go to PSU for an exchange program.  She is an Australian and sure enough she asked me if I liked the Steelers!  Sure enough we hit it off and I plan on giving her my Terrible Towel before I leave here!

-When I was staying at Sahara Trails the other weekend, one of the boys was wearing a Steeler’s shirt that Gretchen had gave him!  I made him take a picture with me!

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Today is my Great Grandma Helen’s 96th birthday!
If you see this good looking lady wish her happy birthday!

Posted by: nat5066 | October 10, 2012

Weekend at Sahara Trails

This past weekend I was lucky enough to spend it with an amazing family and some friendly horses!  My friend Gretchen spent 6 months working over here in Port Stephens (roughly 3 hours North of Sydney) at Sahara Trails.  When Gretchen found out that I was coming over here, she quickly called Siri and Nicki (owners of Sahara Trails) and asked if I could spend a weekend with them.  It wasn’t long until Siri and I became in contact and I was headed North to Port Stephens!

To find out more about Sahara Trails click HERE!

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My weekend consisted of some amazing home cooked meals and entertainment from Nick and Siri’s 4 boys.  There was never a dual moment!  My first day I spent the whole day at the beach with Siri giving beach rides.  I also got to ride a CAMEL!  I have always wanted to ride on the beach… it was amazing!  On Sunday I spent my day at the farm giving bush rides through their property.  It was so relaxing and I enjoyed all of the horses I got to ride!

I highly suggest checking out Gretchen’s blog too if you have time.  She wrote the whole time she was over here and her posts are great!  You can check her blog out HERE!

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