Simone: Mid-Semester Break Travel

Hey everyone! Time has really flown in the past month for me here in Brisbane, Australia. While spending 5 months in a new country felt like a long time to me when I left Auckland, it’s now 6 weeks till I fly home.

I have really been studying hard for the past few weeks, with many assignments due and final tests for two of my courses as I do not have any final exams for these courses (Psyc2030-Developmental Psychology and Psyc2020-Neuroscience). I now have one week left of class till the exam period begins. You may be wondering why I am studying so hard, since my grades won’t be shown on my transcript (only a pass or fail will be shown for my UQ courses). I want to do further study beyond my conjoint Bachelors degree in either an honours/masters in Psychology, Masters in Social work or a Masters of Marketing, and in the admission application they will look at my academic transcript from UQ so I still want to do well in my courses here.

During my Mid semester break I went to Bali, Indonesia to get away from study for a few days and to enjoy a well-needed relaxing holiday.

Elephant camp at POD Chocolate factory in Badung Regency, Bali
Seminyak Beach and local restaurant
Water Palace Temple Ubud

Two other American exchange students who I met in the orientation week had asked me in August if I was keen to go to Bali with them for the mid-semester break and I worked out I had enough savings to go and we booked the 4-day trip shortly after. We flew over at the very beginning of the mid semester break and it was a very short flight from Brisbane (only 6 hours) I must say! I was instantly hit with the culture as soon as I stepped off the plane in Denpasar! The airport is decorated with temple shaped terracotta roofs and cultural sculptures everywhere. The heat hit as soon as we stepped out (20-25 degrees in September) and it was nice as Brisbane had been pretty cold. We used the Grab app to get a local cab driver (similar to Uber) and we set off for our 1-hour drive to Ubud. Ubud is in the middle of the island and is surrounded by rice fields, lush greenery and local villages which is exactly what us girls wanted to see. I highly recommend Ubud as a place to stay in if you go to Bali as you can really immerse yourself in the local culture and way of living. We visited Kuta and Seminyak for a day and realised it was pretty touristy! It’s still a nice place to visit as its right by the beach and has many cool beach cafes, restaurants, beach clubs, bars and markets. I really enjoyed exploring Ubud’s centre where there was an abundance of temples, markets and boutiques. The girls and I booked a couple of tours before we left Australia such as ATVing through the rice fields and local villages, and hiking up Mount Batur. That hike was one of the most incredible things we did! We had to get up at 1:45am and did a 2 hour hike up the mountain from 3-5am and watched the sun rise over the mountains. I have never seen a more beautiful sunrise, it was unreal.

Mount Batur Summit, Bali

We also managed to visit a coffee plantation which had such amazing, fresh, raw coffee and visit the POD chocolate factory, where they make chocolate from scratch. We got to sample many different chocolates and see the elephants at the elephant camp they had there. We got to touch the elephants, feed them, and interact with them which was an amazing experience as well.

A couple of days after I returned back from Bali, I went to Maroochydore with an Australian friend of mine from UQ for two days. We stayed at an air bnb for a night and it was great because the host recommended a place for us to eat dinner and told us where we should visit. The Sunshine Coast is an hour and a half away from Brisbane city so we had a decent ride up there, blasting our music in the car and catching up (I was super lucky my friend had a car and could drive us, public transport takes 2-3 hours to get there). Unfortunately, there was really bad weather the first day we went, so it was raining and cloudy the whole drive up. We stopped at the Maroochydore surf club for lunch (they have amazing food for a reasonable price, so highly recommend you check one out when you visit) and spent the rest of our day driving around the town and then relaxing at the accommodation. We decided to go out to one of the local bars and have a few drinks which was a lot of fun because the NRL final was on, so everyone was cheering and engrossed in the rugby. It was really cool to experience rugby support across the ditch! Australians really like rugby and actively support their local teams.

Maroochy River

Look out for my next post where I talk about how my exams went, the end to the semester at UQ (the University of Queensland) and how the start to my holiday is going (I have a full month to explore Brisbane and its surrounding cities).


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