All posts by Dakota V

I'm currently a college student at Grand Valley State University. I'm embarking on a study abroad opportunity to Australia this year and just returned from an internship with Disney. Born and raised in Michigan, I am looking to explore the world.

60 Days

It’s official, in only 60 days, I will be going back. Back to the people I love. Back to my home and place where I feel I may belong. Packing my bags in May might not be the easiest thing for me to do when it comes; but, I’m ready. Ready for the warmth of the summer sun in Michigan. Ready for the warmth of a loving embrace from my dearest. Ready to move on.

This is something that I’ve learned quite well over the years – how to move on. You brush back the tears, tie up the loose ends, and readjust the straps on your backpack as you toss it on your already heavy shoulders. You do this to avoid the pain of feeling. You don’t let the tears fall even as your vision gets blurry; because, with the first tear, the floodgates open and all the emotions pour out. As you wipe that one tear, everything dissolves. Your calluses from all of the time building yourself up to this moment don’t exist any longer. You are like an open wound and leaving is akin to putting salt in this gaping wound.

Leaving is one of the most painful things to have to do. With all parties involved often crying or trying to keep a stone-cold face to hide the fact that they are breaking inside. I’ve done this many times in the past year. I left many friends behind in my travels and I’ve made others that I have to leave again. Each time, a little bit of me stays with them.  I have lived in 3 different cities, 2 different states, and 2 different continents in the past year. This has definitely taken its toll on me and my state of mind.

So, it is with this and many other factors in mind that I made the decision to come back and finalized my plans. I’m returning on May 16th. I’ll be home with my love for the whole weekend and then I’ll stay home for the summer. It’s not going to be easy leaving the friends I’ve made in Australia; but, I won’t be forgetting them. I’ll definitely want to visit.

As for those in Disney, don’t worry.. I’ll make my way to see you in time as well. I love you all so much. It pains me to be so far from you all; but, c’est la vie.

Until then..

*To a fantastic future*


I’m Coming Home

While I will tell everyone here and anyone at home that asks now that I’m going to consider all of my options before deciding for sure, this is it. I’m coming home. I’m not staying here until August. Now I know that I have lived for quite some time hating that I quit things; I’m not quitting this. This is me, taking control. This is an extremely difficult decision. It was a hard thing for me to even come to a different continent. I’m not quitting.

I’m leaving in May after my family visits me here. I’m doing this not because I hate Australia; but, because I miss too many things and have a lot of things going on in my head. Being away from home for 5 months and then again for 3 months is just a lot to go through in the course of about a year. Being over 9000 miles away from the people I love dearly and miss every day is not easy.

So, it isn’t without careful consideration that I made the decision to return to the States come May. I know that it will end up costing money and might be inconvenient for some; but, this is not a decision to be made on these matters. It isn’t good for me to stay here in my current state. I need to figure everything out and live for myself.

Anyway, rant over. I’m going to be back in the States around mid-May if all works out.

*To a fantastic future*

A Very Gay Day

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m gay and I won’t hesitate to express myself; but, Sydney took this to a whole new level with the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. Held every year on Mardi Gras, Sydney puts on a huge parade right in the center of the gay district. This parade has a variety of floats and demonstrations – everything from leather clad men to policemen and women showing their support.

LeatherPolice Liason

It was a thoroughly entertaining event that was well worth the trip into the city for a view of this spectacle of support for gay rights and pride. The parade was watched by thousands even though the weather wasn’t fantastic. People seemed to have come out of the woodwork just to see the display.


Rainbows everywhere, beads soaring through the air, and more half-naked bodies than some of us would want to see in our entire lifetime. This made for an interesting experience that I won’t soon forget. Not only was it a display of support for the large population of gays and lesbians in the city, it was also a time to protest the way that people in this part of society are treated.


In many ways, this parade was also a tool for resources to show their presence. There are many organizations in the area which some people may not even know exist, and these organizations used this parade to get their name known to people who need it.

AmnestyOverall, this event was fantastic and I loved seeing so many people there showing their support. Sure, it was a spectacle for most of them; but, to me, it was a huge outpouring of support for people who really need more of the public to listen and care about their fight for rights.

Kookaburra Laughs

It’s been a while since I last posted. My apologies for the delay, there has been a lot happening lately along with a period of adjustment to this new setting.

One might think that Australia is very similar to the United States. In some ways, it is; in other ways, it is completely different. For instance, the birds, foliage, weather, lifestyle, and general attitude are all different in Australia.

The birds.. don’t even get me started on those. Magpies, cockatoos, kookaburra, and lorikeets. These might sound like made up names to some. Others know that they are all interesting looking birds and loud as they can be. Magpies are vicious creatures in their swooping season (which I missed, thank goodness). Cockatoos are often found in flocks in the trees and not terribly loud. Lorikeets are beautiful little birds that fly around without making too much of a ruckus. The magpies and crows around here, however, sound like dying animals. When they call to each other, it really sounds like a dying cat or lamb. Absolutely atrocious noises, those that the magpies make. Kookaburra, though, are the worst! These birds like to disturb the peace more than any of the others. They sound like monkeys from a disturbing horror film. I don’t know how to describe it any other way. They laugh but in an extremely freaky way that makes you wonder if they are cackling to mess with your head.


More posts to come, I promise!

*To a fantastic future*

Caught in a Whirlwind

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been out of the states for a week already. Looking back on this week, there was a lot that we managed to fit into such a short time. I was able to pet a kangaroo, take a picture with a koala, knee board on a cable ski course, ride an atv for the first time, see a sliver of the Sydney Opera House, and now I go to school in a castle. It is an unreal experience.

Cairns was the first part of the trip over in Australia and after over a day of airports and planes, we jumped right in and started learning about Australia and the local city. We woke up early every day and had an action-packed time in Cairns. However, with the threat of a cyclone, our Great Barrier Reef trip was cancelled. The activities in which we still participated were loads of fun even with this little damper.

ImageGot a pretty neat picture with this new mate. Later in the day, we also got a picture with a koala. We were able to toss a boomerang and watch an Aboriginal dance as well.

After the thrilling and fast-paced four days in Carins, we had to head out bright and early on Sunday morning to catch our plane to Sydney. The 6:45 flight was a fun time even though I had only had about 3 or 4 hours of sleep. After landing, we were met by some of our coordinators from ICMS and GlobaLinks. We loaded onto a bus and headed out on the road to our new home.

On our trip, we saw the tip of the Sydney Opera House and drove over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was truly unreal to see these things that we had only dreamed of seeing one day. Upon reaching ICMS, we received our keys and moved in. Our GlobaLinks coordinator told us to drop our stuff in our rooms and join him for a walk down to the beach to show us the city. Needless to say, it was a gorgeous view.

Rocky Coast of Manly

The city has plenty to offer in the way of sunny beaches and beautifully scenic views. Manly is quite a serene place and even with the tourists around, it is nice to be in such a beautiful city.

After this walk, we continued our busy schedules and tried our best to unpack in the downtime. The college’s orientation week (or O-Week) is one full of activities and fun. We started it off by receiving our highly-anticipated class schedules and continued by learning about the college, its history, its offerings, and more. To cap off the first night, there was an Aussie party which was held at the uni bar. No, you didn’t hear me wrong, my uni has a bar which is run by students for students.

Over the next couple of days, we had more sessions to get us acclimated to the uni and this new environment. We also had more social times where we could meet the students from 24 different countries and have a good time.

So far, so good. Even with the times of homesickness, I am having quite an amazing time here with the new friends that I have made.

ICMS in daylight

Pre-Departure Jitters

Hello all, welcome to my blog.

I’ve created this as a space for me to keep people updated on my study abroad to Australia. This experience is one that I’m sure I won’t ever forget and I wanted to use this space as a digital journal and memory-keeper.

With less than a week before my departure to Australia, I have a few freak-outs left. While I know that this experience is going to be good for me, it is not without many fears that I will be undertaking the trip. The flights that I will embark upon on January 27th will mark the first time that I will be flying alone. This experience is also my first time using a visa, first time living out of the country, first time living on my own (in my own dorm/apartment), and first time on another continent.

In many ways, this is going to be a liberating experience. It is because of this that I am so afraid. I’m afraid of how crippled I may be by culture shock, afraid of being completely alone, and afraid of being so far from home. I have so many fantastic people who I am leaving at home and they will all be missed dearly. I will not forget any of you and I cannot wait to see you when I return!

*To a fantastic future*