I went to Cairns and now I wear ankle bracelets.

Claire Kelley
October 3, 2015

It's Aussie spring break, y'all!

This week, IES Abroad took its Sydney students on an insane mid-semester break trip to Cairns in Queensland. We snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef. We night-walked through the Daintree Rainforest. We swam underneath waterfalls and in the top of an old volcano. I constantly felt so lucky to be right where I was, which is a feeling nobody gets often enough. Most of our activities were guided tours, ones that countless other vacationers embark on every day. Don't get me wrong; they were wonderful, and I'm so grateful for the guides who boated us out to the farthest parts of the reef or showed us how to spot huntsmen in the dark. But I've learned that the most special parts of a journey are the ones you don't pay for, the tiny things that happen that make your soul grow a little bit or sing for a second. I've made it a habit to notice these things and remember them, so here are a few perfect times from SB2K15 that weren't listed on the invoice:

The sound of bare feet padding on pavement in a small town where no one expects anyone to wear shoes. Standing on a beach underneath a moon so bright you have to squint at it.

Happy tears in a canoe at sunset.

Watching someone clap from across a lake, and seeing their hands slap together before the sound reaches you.

Pounding the roots of an ancient tree, sending echoey deep bass beats through the rainforest. Big ice cream cones.

Considering, if only for a moment, working for accommodation in a hostel or on a farm or anywhere in North Queensland, if it means I'd get to look at that landscape every morning.

Unmanned produce stands. 

Watching cows graze in the top of an old volcano, where soft grass now sits in place of lava.

Consuming all the carbohydrates Australia has to offer (usually in the form of an all-you-can-eat buffet).

Cane trains and banana trees for miles (or kilometers, whatever you like).

Following a shark through the reef, then getting pooped on by parrotfish.

*All photos are courtesy of the lovely Kaitlyn Hebden (roomie, bestie, GoPro owner, artist, aura reader, free spirit, etc.) because I'm stuck with a touchscreen Samsung brick whose camera is incapable of capturing beauty.



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Claire Kelley

<div>Hi, friends! My name&#39;s Claire Kelley, and I&#39;m a senior studying journalism at the always gorgeous and green Southern&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. My hobbies include, but are not limited to, eating pepperoni pizza, going places&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">I&#39;ve never been, smelling the insides of books, and yelling at people who litter. I am amped to check Sydney, Australia,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">off my bucket list, and even more excited to tell y&#39;all about it.</span></div>

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