World’s Best Cup of Coffee

So…. Maybe I haven’t found the world’s best cup of coffee, but I have been on the hunt for Manly’s best cup of coffee! My goal for this term has been to try every little cafe, and there are a ton, and see which one had the best latte.

Mocha Mocha Mocha

I have been spoiled since being in Australia because they know how to do coffee here. Drip coffee, pressed coffee – any sort of non-latte does not exist. The closest thing you can get to that is a long black or Americano (which in my opinion are not worth it). Everywhere you turn, there is a coffee shop, so it is safe to say that I have been thoroughly caffeinated since the moment I arrived in this wonderful country.

There are several cafes within walking distance of campus, so I have slowly been making my way around town trying different coffees.

Manly Coffee Guild
Peanut butter latte <3











Though most coffees are pretty equivalent around town, I have narrowed my selections down to these three:


#3. Muffin Break – cute coffee chain around Australia and it has the BEST version of iced coffee (coffee blended with ice cream, so like a frappuccino but way better).

#2. Fika – I am in love with this bright, quaint Swedish cafe. They have great coffee and even better cinnamon and vanilla buns. They top their mocha lattes with a Dala Horse in cocoa – can’t get much better than that!

and finally… (Drum roll please)

#1. The Roast Office – I am definitely in love with this place for several reasons. Their coffee is delicious of course! It is also the closest cafe to ICMS – I sound lazy, but if you had to climb the hill up to the school, you would understand too! The music choices are incredible every day, the cafe is the most adorable place in the world, and their banana bread is awesome. No, most of that has nothing to do with the quality of coffee, but its the best in my opinion, and I have spent many a morning in this beautiful place.

My excessive amount of visits to The Roast Office


Life in the Castle

After a few months of living in our beautiful ICMS castle, I still haven’t been able to get used to the fact that I am in Australia. Yes, I am going to school, studying, hanging out with friends, watching Netflix, drinking an absurd amount of coffee – the usual things that college students do! But I am doing all of that in AUSTRALIA. Plus, I live in a castle.

Do I consider myself a princess?

Why yes.

Yes I do.

A hardworking, beach-going, coffee-loving princess!


Quick time lapse of walking up to the castle! I got really into time lapses this term…

However, sometimes castle life isn’t all its cracked up to be (I know what you’re thinking – that’s what all princesses say). It still is uni, and like at any college or university, some of the most important things are how nice your dorm room is and how good the food is.

My room is amazing with tall ceilings, gorgeous views, filled with TimTams, a Swede, and an Australian! My roommates are awesome and living the triple life hasn’t been as bad as I thought it might have been, and I’m grateful for that!

Daily struggle of climbing the staircase (Featuring my good friend, Sam).

Typical lunch – random combination of food and always cucumbers and kiwi (if they have them)!

If you like eggs, tater tots, rice, and bread rolls, then this is the uni for you! The food is pretty good most days, the very limited options can make it a little difficult some days (Ubereats is my hero). Something I personally miss is iceberg lettuce (arugula and that purple stuff is too popular here) and good old American ranch dressing!

I think the fatal flaw of living on campus is that I don’t have access to a proper kitchen. Anyone who knows me knows I love making cookies and birthday treats almost more than life, so not being able to do that has been a little difficult! Everyone be prepared for heaps of sweets the week I fly home…

But regardless, living in the castle has been more than just a dream! I get to look out my window and see the gorgeous Manly beach, walk down two flights of stairs for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and enjoy the warm breeze in the beginning of December! What more could I ask for?

I Am Thankful For…

This Thanksgiving obviously has been a strange one – being in a foreign country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving is a new one for me for sure! No one is yelling at you to stop playing Christmas music until after Thanksgiving (so for all you Christmas music lovers out there, come to Australia) which has been a nice change! People are already saying Merry Christmas around here. But enough about Christmas – it is Thanksgiving after all.

My sister and brother-in-law just so happened to take a trip to Australia over Thanksgiving, and I was lucky enough to spend two incredibly wonderful days with them – Thanksgiving being one of them.

Emily and Braden’s first surf
Experiencing the castle

Though this holiday was not like any other, I am incredibly thankful for the things we did and time I spent with my family and friends. Thanksgiving morning, I woke up, got a “Happy Thanksgiving” from my good friend from New Zealand, picked Emily and Braden up from the airport, and we were off to explore the city! That night we got the fanciest dinner I have ever had in my life, and probably will ever have in my life. We dined at the Bennelong restaurant in the Opera House and ate like kings! I had to Google most of the menu because I had no idea what any of it was – but it all ended up being delicious.

Though the night was incredible, there were no mashed potatoes, casseroles, or pumpkin pie; no going around the table saying what we are thankful for; no cramming 25 people around the table. There was nothing normal about this Thanksgiving, but I realized it didn’t have to be normal. Nothing about 80 degree weather in November is normal! I had my family there with me and over Skype, my good friend Rachel, and we all ate dinner and enjoyed each other’s company.

That is what I’m thankful for – having friends and family there for you, even if you’re halfway around the world.

Aussie Quirks

Since arriving in Australia, I haven’t had much of a culture shock necessarily since it is an English-speaking, developed country. However, Australia does have its quirks – some commonly known to the rest of the world, others not so much!

One of my favorite things about Australia is the laid back surfer lifestyle. “Shirts and shoes required” is not a thing for most businesses here. Back home, I never questioned it because I’m always so cold… why wouldn’t you wear at least 3 layers of clothing with wool socks and a jacket? Now I understand – not everyone lives in the tundra we lovingly call Michigan.

Sitting in a coffee shop by the beach, people walk in with wet suits, swimmers, rarely wearing shoes, and carrying the occasional surfboard. It still surprises me a bit when someone walks in with wet suit half on, smelling like the ocean, and talking to the barista about the surf!

Though not the most difficult, the hardest thing for me since getting here are that there are a few Aussie-style words that completely confuse me. It leads to me giving people that “what are you talking about – oh no… my American is showing isn’t it” look.

Here are some of my favorite Aussie words and phrases that are a little different than how we say them in the US! See if you can figure them out 🙂

how you going?








Other words that just bring me joy but make total sense are: doggo (and anything else that is shortened and ends with -o), bloody, recon, washing, and of course, the classic: g’day mate.

Even “environment” is shortened!

Melbourne Cup

A couple of friends and I decided to spend the weekend hard at work…

on vacation…

in Melbourne!

How could we not go when there is an opportunity to go to the Melbourne Cup? For those of you who don’t know (I was one of those people if I’m being honest), the Melbourne Cup is the biggest horse race in Australia. It is known as “The race that stops the nation,” and after experiencing it firsthand, I can confirm that statement is true. Even back at uni, there were countless parties throughout the day – this race is truly the one that stops the nation! Anywhere you would go, people would be getting ready for the race.


The state of Victoria even declared Melbourne Cup day a national holiday! Even though I have never had much of an interest in horse races, there is no denying the excitement surrounding the Cup.


The amount of crazy outfits, excessive drinking, and loud cheering made the event one to remember! Thousands of people flooded the stadium, all placing bets and waiting for the main race of the day. Though it only lasted a few minutes, the race was spectacular – not one person lost focus on the horses, and when they passed by, the cheering couldn’t have been louder!

Though I didn’t place any bets (I have terrible luck), we met a group of people and cheered on their horses alongside them. The second the race ended, the shouts of joy and cries of disappointment surprised me from all of those who placed bets. It was a wild time to say the least!

Opera House Adventures

One of Sydney’s greatest treasures is it’s Opera House. Lucky for me it is just a hop, skip, and a ferry ride away from my beautiful campus.

A few weeks ago, my program,TEAN Australia, hosted an event for all study abroad students in NSW that was a tour of the Opera House. I was THRILLED to be able to go inside and check out this iconic building (without having to spend a small fortune going to an event). We got a quick background of the history of the building. The story behind it was actually extremely interesting for the world of architecture!


Sydney Opera House and the Bridge!

We got to see the inside of two theaters, one was set up for a play and the other was set up for the orchestra. They had a Harry Potter event in which they played the score of the film live while they projected the movie on the screen! How I missed this, I don’t quite know.

One of the sails of the Opera House
The tour group well on its way through the Opera House
Inside the sails

We also stopped by the Utzon Room (named after the architect Jørn Utzon), and at first, the room was not that impressive. Taking a closer look at it and hearing the story behind the design of the room, however, made it so much more exciting! Every detail was intentional. The floors were meant to wear, showing the history and memories made in that room. Even the light bulb filament was in the shape of the Opera House (I thought this was the coolest)!

Utzon’s original painting (representing a symphony of sorts) taking up one wall of the Utzon room
Me and my lovely tour guide
The filament is in the shape of the Opera House!

Just short time later, my good friend Rachel found an event that celebrated the 44th birthday of the Opera House  – a champagne tasting! That day also happened to be world champagne day AND it is her dad’s favorite type of champagne, so how could we resist?

Corinne, Rachel, Evelina, and I enjoying our #moetmoment
Many photoshoots were done with the balloons because who doesn’t love balloons??

We show up to a sea of people waiting to be counted and filed into the building. Rachel, Evelina, Corinne, and I were the youngest people there by far, but we didn’t care! Over the course of two hours, we had three different tastings accompanied by an assortment of yummy hors d’oeuvres. Definitely was the fanciest thing I’ve done since I arrived in Sydney!


This tasting was an attempt to break the world record for largest champagne tasting, and we CRUSHED it. #moetmoment

Surf Camp!

During orientation, we had a compulsory surf safety presentation (can’t get more Aussie than that!), and we were told about Surf Camp Australia. Two days of nothing but “SURF EAT SLEEP REPEAT.” Sounds great right? So we got a bunch of people to sign up and within no time we were off!

Related image
7 Mile Beach – best place to learn to surf in Australia!

With our bags packed and eager to get going, we arrive at our meeting place just a little early! Okay, we were an hour early… Luckily, they plan to take the first 20 people by train instead of bus, so after waiting for a few more people to arrive, we’re off to the train station! Because we are so excited about our adventure and hanging out with other ICMS students, we are chatting away with the group while we wait for the train. Unfortunately, our surf camp instructor, Scott, leads his sweet, innocent little ducklings onto the quiet carriage of the train…

for our two hour ride…

20-odd college-age students…


Of course not.

We tried. We really did. Thankfully after an hour, most people start getting off the train, but not without scolding our group multiple times for talking on the quiet carriage. So after a long, awkward, exciting, and at times uncomfortable train ride, we make it to Gerringong, where our cute little surf camp oasis is expecting us.

Jose, the manager, giving us instructions for the weekend


We have a meeting once everyone arrives about the breakdown of the weekend. Two groups of campers with two surf lessons, one Saturday and one on Sunday!






Surf, eat, sleep, repeat!

Getting up on Saturday, we are full of excitement! We get our wetties (wetsuits) on and head to the beach for lesson number 1! It’s not the best day to swim, let alone surf, but the wetsuits definitely help. We have our basic instruction about how to surf and the anatomy of the surfboard, but unfortunately the wind and the waves are so bad we can’t surf that morning. We still have tons of fun hanging out back at camp, playing giant Jenga and talking with our fellow surfers.

Trying to beat the record of 26 levels high…. wasn’t successful, but we had fun regardless!

The conditions still are pretty bad in the afternoon, but they let us attempt to surf anyway! I try my best to remember the steps, but by the end of the day, I still am not able to stand up on my board. However, I am determined to get it day 2. But for now, it’s dinner and some dancing at the local pub!







Sunday morning we get up at 7 and we’re surfing by 8! After a bit of help on some better waves, my lovely instructors get me up on a wave and it was incredible!  Gliding so smoothly across the water I throw some shakas at the guys signaling I finally had it! After our lesson, we head back to camp to pack up and have our closing meeting. They weren’t kidding – Surf eat sleep repeat – I was beat by the end of it! However I wasn’t quite ready to get back into school mode…

ICMS Surf Fam <3